Daily Meditations - Apr 27-May 9

Saturday, May 9

Saturday's Easter Word: Abundance

Scripture Reference: John 10:10 King James Version (KJV)

The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. [New English Bible version: “I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest.”]

I confess that when I chose to write a meditation on this word, I had an entirely different path in mind. Well, life is all about exploring and learning and finding new meaning, isn’t it? And I certainly did a lot of reading, (thank you, Google!) and tried to sort out the ideas I found in numerous commentaries on this passage. So here goes…

This is a continuation of the metaphor of Jesus as shepherd, one who guides and nurtures. It also emphasizes the contrast between ‘thieves’ and Jesus. Try reading the passage again, with the emphasis on I. The thieves are the Pharisees who retained their authority through the use of fear. (Click here for a more in-depth analysis)

But on to my word—abundance. What does it mean to have life abundantly? We understand that it doesn’t refer to material blessings, but if pressed to define it, could we? Having life abundantly means that we don’t have just the essentials, but also those things when added, make our lives blessed and happy. I am acutely aware that many of us have circumstances which cause us to question that our lives are blessed and happy.

However, I have known numerous people who, even in very difficult life challenges, feel that they “have an abundance of grace from Christ, all spiritual blessings in him now, and all fullness of joy, glory, and happiness hereafter.” (John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible).  Having the spiritual blessings now (like the peace of knowing that we are unconditionally loved, cared for, and accepted by God) and the knowledge that we will have life eternal, can help us view situations through a different lens. Then we can look for the proverbial ‘small blessings’ in a situation which are in reality not small at all, but huge.

Early in this COVID time, Stephen recorded an old song, Green Cathedral. Initially, I wanted to write about this idea. Surely, one of the great blessings of this life is to be able to experience the peace and joy of a walk under trees, whether it be in a forest or under a canopy of trees on a city street. Winnipeg and Springfield have an abundance of this beauty. I know that many of you consider this to be where you feel God’s presence most abundantly. Enjoy!

Let us pray:

God who makes our lives abundant, often our paths, like our intentions, take a turn and we must travel a completely different route. Whether it be through a change in finances, health, information, or external circumstances beyond our control, help us to feel your grace in the new road we must travel. Open our hearts and minds to allow the small blessings to be seen as new opportunities, to search out new learnings, and to feel an abundance of comfort. Amen.

With Blessings,
Linda Rodgers

 

Friday, May 8

Today’s Easter Word: Truly

“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep… Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.” (John 10:1-2, 6-7)

When this word came up as one of our Easter Words, I have to say I was truly confused as to why it was a highlighted word; it’s not a word that feels like a topic to write about. However, in the book of John at least, Jesus does use this word quite a bit, often in the same way he does here, starting a sentence with ‘Very truly, I tell you…”

When I did a bit of research into this, I discovered that what “truly” means in this context isn’t what we might think of truth. Jesus isn’t trying to convince the disciples that he is telling a literal truth. In fact the passage itself says he is using a figure of speech, and we know Jesus is not literally a gate! What Jesus means is “Here is an important truth for you to know! Pay attention, because this is something significant for you to listen to.”

This is a good way for us to approach reading the Bible in general. The Bible was written in a different culture than ours, and it contains many metaphors, allegories, and parables that are not meant to be taken as literal truths. I think taking the Bible too literally can have two different negative effects. Some people find something that is unbelievable (Jesus can’t be a literal gate!) and so they toss the whole Bible out as made up and worthless. And some people will believe it literally (OK, I believe Jesus is a literal gate), but then they won’t look beyond the literal to find the deeper meaning, the real and significant truth that Jesus is trying to convey.  In this case, he is offering protection to the sheep (for more about Jesus as the gate, see Monday’s Meditation!)

What makes scripture sacred, is the deep truth it offers, not only to those who first heard it so many years ago, but to us today as well. Sometimes the context we read it in today means that it speaks a very different truth to us than it did to the people who first heard it (I know our current crisis has meant that many passages speak to me in a new way!) Sometimes, though, the truth we find in scripture today is the same or similar to what our ancestors in faith found, a truth that draws us together through time and space, such as God’s never-ending protection and love.

Let us pray:

Holy God, when we engage with scripture, help us to remember your words: “Very truly, I tell you…” May we open our eyes, ears, and hearts, to uncover the deep and significant truths that you want us to learn: truths for ourselves, truths for our community of faith, and truths for our world. Be with us in this time of crisis, may your words assure us of your never-ending love, that you hold us as securely as a gate, and care for us as gently as a shepherd. Amen.

With Blessings,
Kristin and Maureen

 

Thursday, May 7

Today's Easter Word: Know

Scripture Reference: John 10:1-10

Have you ever travelled the train in Britain and heard the porter say “Mind the Gap”? The ‘Gap’ they refer to is the space between the step down from the train and the edge of the platform. I wonder how many incidences or accidents occurred before someone knew they must do something to raise awareness to prevent people slipping down ‘The Gap’. (There is now all kinds of merchandise on the market, emblazoned with the quote “Mind the Gap”).

I know, that most of us are getting a little fed up with the restrictions placed on us by our current reality. We long to get on with our lives, we feel like we are in Limbo, between somewhere and nowhere, we are neither on or off the train, we actually may feel we are slipping into the ‘gap.’ We long to know that this will soon be over!

Richard Rohr, the Franciscan author and workshop leader known to several of us, tells us that from a faith perspective this time of Covid 19 puts us in a unique position. For this ‘in between place’ is where deep transformation and change can occur. Rhor names this as ‘Liminal space', with Liminal relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process.

I think we are well past the initial stage of this process, and wishing we could transition out of it, back to normal life!

The question remains of course, will we ever know what normal life might look like once it happens?

Most of us need to know where we stand, what to expect, what is going to happen. It is the latter, the knowing ‘what is going to happen’ that we cannot know for sure. And some of us find that the hardest to deal with.

In this grace filled and often challenging time, I believe we have become more creative and discovered gifts and abilities that may have been previously untapped. We have remained awake, prayerfully living out the gospel with acts of kindness and caring. Some of you have come to know folks you didn’t know before by being part of our phone tree and for that we are all grateful.

We are invited all through our lives to ‘Know’ God in meaningful ways, and sometimes we receive a nudge from God that tells us to slow down, pay more attention, helping us to know God in a deeper way! This might just be that time for us to know what God might be calling us to do. Perhaps we are being called to take up a new challenge at church, to perhaps answer a call to change jobs, or even answer a call to ministry (I can attest it is never too late to do that!) When God is in the challenge, you will know without the shadow of a doubt that something good is about to happen! Jesus tells us the sheep know the shepherd’s voice, they know to whom they should listen and know whose voice they should ignore!

Have you been listening? Listening not just with your ears but with your whole being, especially your heart?

Let us pray,

Gracious and calling God,

In a space that is betwixt and between, neither here nor there, may we continue to live with hope and imagination and know you are moving among us and will shepherd us as we seek to know you better.  Hold us close in this moment; we need to know you are near.

Amen and amen.

Blessings,
Maureen and Kristin.

This meditation is based on an idea from a close friend Rev. Valerie Pitt, D.M. in Beamsville, Ontario.

 

Wednesday, May 6

Today's Easter Word: Follow

“The sheep follow the shepherd because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him.....” (John 10:4-5)

To follow Jesus is central to being a Christian, also called a disciple or “follower” of Jesus. In the parable of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, we are the sheep. But “following like sheep” often makes us think of people following mindlessly, being rounded up and just going along with the crowd, often to their detriment.

But in this passage, the sheep are not mindless followers at all. These sheep think for themselves - they can tell the difference between their shepherd and a stranger. They make a choice to listen to the voice of the one who calls them, and they make a choice to follow - they could run the other way. Following then, is an action; it means making a decision, and following through.

It's the same when we choose to follow Jesus. We shouldn't follow anyone mindlessly, or just go along with a crowd without thinking. And the same is true for following Jesus - it needs to be a choice we make, to follow his voice and not the other voices we may hear calling us in other directions. Following Jesus means action, it means making decisions about how we live. It can affect many parts of our lives: how we spend or give our money; how we interact with other people, those we know, and those we don’t know and may be very different than us; how we engage with politics, our community, and social institutions; how we use our time; how we treat the earth.

How do you make the decisions about whose voice you listen to and follow? How does following Jesus affect the choices you make in life?

As I've been thinking about the word ‘Follow’, this song has been in my head, so I'm passing it along to you all to enjoy.

The words also affirm that we don't follow Jesus mindlessly; we follow actively and out of love. And we follow the One who loves us.

Let us pray:

Good Shepherd, help me to hear your voice clearly among the many voices that clamour for attention. May I follow you, follow you wherever you may go. May I not follow mindlessly, but choose to follow in your way, in response to your love. Give me wisdom to make good decisions about how I live in this world, how I show love to you and others, and myself. I pray in gratitude and love, Amen.

Blessings,
Kristin and Maureen

 

Tuesday, May 5

Today's Easter Word: Shepherd

The psalm reading for this week is the Shepherd Psalm 23. I suspect that, after the Lord’s Prayer, it is the most memorized (lengthy) passage in the Bible. On Sunday we heard Stephen’s sensitive recording of a new song based on this passage, composed by Michael Jonas and used with permission by GIA Publications. I know that, even if you heard it then, you’ll be glad to listen again.

Changing gears, I’m going to introduce you to another version of Psalm 23. This one was composed by Bobby McFerrin. You may be saying, “That name is familiar.” Indeed, over thirty years ago, Bobby had the hit song of the year, Don’t worry, be happy. And that was all I knew of Bobby McFerrin until I sang his choral paraphrase of Psalm 23; its style is an interesting mix of vocal Jazz and Anglican chant. He dedicated the piece to his mother and in it he uses the feminine pronoun for God. Upon first hearing, that can be jarring. We are so accustomed to he leadeth me.

Last week I attended a webinar. Part of one person’s talk was about the feminine images of God in the Bible, beginning in Genesis 1: 27. So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. There it is; God’s image is male and female.

There are other better recordings of this anthem, but I chose this one because you see Bobby conducting an ensemble.

Bobby is a deeply religious man. I found this short documentary on him informative and inspiring as he talks about his faith and how he prays through his music. 

Now back to the psalm. A shepherd is someone who protects, guides, and nurtures their flock, which is why Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd. Is there someone who has acted as a shepherd for you? Who leads you in the paths of righteousness? Do you act or have you acted as shepherd for someone? Have you provided spiritual food and protection? How can you do that in the coming weeks?

Let us pray…

Shepherd God, we acknowledge and thank you for the ways you have provided for us, for being with us in the deep valleys of life, for filling our lives with goodness and song. For those among our flock who are grieving, let them know that you grieve with them, and that you are there to comfort and sustain them. Help us during these days of isolation and concern to find ways that we can be shepherds for others. Let us be creative with our personal strengths to reach out, to guide and uphold each other.  Amen.

With Blessings,
Linda Rodgers

 

Monday, May 4

Today's Easter Word: Enter

This Week's Scripture Ref: John 10: 1-10

In John, Chapter 10, Jesus uses several different metaphors in the same speech. It says in verse 6: “Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them”, and I have some sympathy with the disciples!

In some parts of this passage, Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd, but in another, he says “I am the gate for the sheep… whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.” (John 10:7-9)

In my Daily Feast Devotion book this week, some interesting questions about this passage with Jesus as the gate were posed: Is Jesus as the gate a way to protect the vulnerable flock from the abuse or corruption by the world? Is it exclusive, keeping some people out who don’t measure up; after all, he does call those who try to enter by another way “thieves and bandits”? Does Jesus as the gate, swing open for the lost sheep in particular, so there is no need for climbing over walls? Is the image of Jesus alone as the gate one of unity, so that the flock will be made one as they enter together?

I think Jesus as the gate does offer both protection for the vulnerable sheep, and also the way to the pasture, where the sheep graze. These are also promises that we hear in Psalm 23, as God the Good Shepherd offers both protection and abundance. But Jesus as the gate also says something about the leadership of the sheep. The shepherd enters in through the gate, but the thieves and bandits who enter in another way may try to lead the sheep, but they are really only there to steal and kill and destroy.

I’m reminded that in our world, there are those in leadership who truly care about the good of the people they are leading, and then there are those who are more concerned about their own power, and this comes at the expense of the people they lead, especially the vulnerable. Jesus, as the gate through which both the sheep and shepherds enter, is there to serve the sheep, and to empower the shepherds to lead wisely and well.

Let us pray:

Loving God, we are thankful for Jesus, the gate that lets us enter into your sheepfold and pasture. Whether we feel in need of your gentle protection, your love and mercy, or any other of the abundant gifts you offer, may we find what we need in you today. Help us, O God, to keep in mind your way of service to others, especially the most vulnerable. May our gates be open and welcoming to those in need, and helping all to find the abundant life you wish for us, your children.  Amen.

With Blessings,
Kristin and Maureen

 

Saturday, May 2

Today’s Easter Word: Stay

Luke 24: 28, 29.  When they came to Emmaus, he (Jesus) acted as if he was going on ahead. But they urged him, saying, “Stay with us. It’s nearly evening, and the day is almost over.”  So he went in to stay with them.

The phrase stay with us always brings to my mind a beautiful hymn, words by Walter Farquharson set to music by Ron Klusmeier. We seldom sing it because we think of it as an evening hymn. I find it calming and compelling and I’m here to make a plea for us to sing it at any time of the day, for surely ‘night’ comes to us in multiple ways, not just when the sun goes down.

We experience night in many forms—illness, death of a loved one, loss of a relationship or a job or economic stability, anger, mental illness. Certainly that has been brought home to us over and over again during the past weeks. We wait and yearn for the morning, for relief.

How much easier it is for us during the waiting if there is someone with us. Sometimes it’s a person who physically stays with us, holding our hand, making us tea, praying with us; sometimes, however, we wait alone, especially during these days of physical distancing. Whatever our waiting circumstances, if we can allow ourselves to feel the healing, holy presence of God, the night becomes easier to bear and we can foresee the light of morning.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAYSeZ9C0DY

Stay with us through the night.
Stay with us through the pain.
Stay with us, blessed stranger
till the morning breaks again.

Stay with us through the night.
Stay with us through the grief.
Stay with us, blessed stranger
till the morning brings relief.

Stay with us through the night.
Stay with us through the dread.
Stay with us, blessed stranger
till the morning breaks new bread.

Used with permission by Musiklus.com

For more commentary by Ron and Walter on their hymn, go to https://musiklus.com/product/stay-with-us-2/. Scroll down the left side of the page to Comments about Song.

Let us pray:

Compassionate Comforter God, we are thankful that you are with us during the nights of our lives. Help us to feel your arms wrapped around us, holding us. Let us hear your reassurance that we will make it through the night, the pain, the grief, and the dread to the relief of morning. If we are in a morning phase of our lives, help us to know how to be the one who stays through the night for others. We now name those who need your comfort and strength… Amen

Linda Rodgers
Choir Director

 

Friday, May 1

Today’s Easter Word: Blessed

Luke 24:30-31: “When Jesus was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him…”

Just like he did at the Last Supper, before he broke the bread, or gave it to the disciples, Jesus blessed it.

Offering a blessing before a meal is a good way for us to practice gratitude, not only for the food we’re about to eat, but for all the gifts we have received.

Some families and cultures have a special blessing that they always say. At my grandparents’ house, we always say the same blessing:

“Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let this food to us be blessed,

By thy hands, we all are fed, thank you, Lord, for our daily bread. Amen”

And, in yesterday’s Daily Meditation, a traditional Hebrew blessing was included. Perhaps the blessing Jesus offered was similar.

I don’t think it matters if our blessing is long or short, spoken or sung, out loud or just a moment of silence in which to offer thanks. What is important is that we recognize that we have been blessed, and take time to express our gratitude.

Stephen has recorded a lovely Blessing song, "For Thy Gracious Blessing: https://bit.ly/obuc_forthygraciousblessing

These are the words. It's a round, so try singing along. You can join in almost anytime:

“For thy gracious blessing, we give thanks, O Lord,
For thy loving kindness, we give thanks, O Lord.”

We’d love to hear if you’ve got your own favourite graces or blessing practices! Perhaps we can all try a new blessing for awhile to keep ourselves aware of what we are doing and why we do it – in gratitude for all of God’s blessings.

Our prayer for today comes from page 908 in Voices United, in the Daily Prayer section (Did you know our hymnbook has a Daily Prayer section? It’s worth a look! If you don’t have one at home, we are sending out a PDF copy in the weekly email today!)

This is a Prayer of Thanksgiving, which could be used at any time, including before a meal.

Let us pray:

Generous and Loving God,
We thank you for your blessings without number.
We bless you for the beauty of creation:
for day and night, for summer and winter;
for sun and rain, for seed-time and harvest;
for your bounty supplying all our needs.
We bless you for protecting us in our weakness,
and renewing our strength of spirit;
for guiding us as we resist evil,
and calling us to your truth, and to your service.
We praise you for sending Jesus to be among us:
for his life on earth, his sufferings and death,
for his resurrection to new life, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Grant, O God, that our hearts may grow in thankfulness
for these and all your gifts of grace,
so that as the people of new life, we may proclaim your praise,
in Jesus’ name. Amen.

With Blessings,

Kristin and Maureen

 

Thursday, Apr. 30

Today's Easter Word: Broke

Scripture Reference: Luke 24:13-35

Today’s word is ‘Broke’ taken from the line in Luke 24 v 30, “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them” (The same words Jesus spoke at the last supper found in Luke 22 v 19).

The two travellers on the road to Emmaus immediately recognized this stranger to be the Risen Christ when he ‘broke the bread’. What was it in the act of breaking bread that opened up the pathways to recognition?  If you think about it, until the night before the crucifixion, breaking bread together had always been an important part of the Jewish faith. But on that Thursday evening, Jesus opened up a whole new idea.

At the beginning of every Jewish family meal, bread is lifted and blessed before breaking and sharing it around the table. The blessing is usually recited by the father in a household, reciting the traditional blessing spoken in Hebrew, which translates as "Blessed are You, O LORD our God, King of the Universe, who has brought forth bread from the earth.”  At the Seder meal following the blessing, a piece of bread is broken off, wrapped in a napkin, and hidden for the children to find at the end of the meal. When it is found, it is brought back to the table and shared, with everyone breaking off a piece and eating it together. Some say this ritual is about the coming of Messiah, the redemption of Israel. Others say it is a reminder to always save some food and share it with the poor.

Some scholars say this was the piece of broken bread that Jesus divided among his disciples, truly indicating that He was the Messiah and eating the ‘matzah’ (unleaven bread) was sharing in his life and resurrection.

If the two walking the Emmaus road were not at that ‘last supper’ with Jesus and the twelve, how was it that their eyes were opened at that specific moment when Jesus broke the bread? It makes me wonder if there were more than 13 people around that table in the upper room! We may never know for sure. It is however, our conviction that for his followers, Jesus lifting, giving thanks, breaking and passing the bread had taken on a whole new meaning!

The words of Jesus and his broken body on the cross must now hold for each of them profound and emotional feelings, profound enough to open their eyes and to recognize the stirrings that had been going on inside them since the stranger had joined them on the road! Profound enough that they hurried back to tell, “We have seen the Lord!” May our Christian experience be so profound that each of us might declare, “We too have seen the Lord”. Thanks be to God.

Let us pray:

Holy one, in this strange time of isolation and social distancing, we celebrate your promise to be always with us. We welcome reassurance that we are not alone, knowing you are with us in our loneliness, our sadness, and in our struggles. If we can find you in all that our Gracious saviour, we know you are definitely with us in our joys and celebrations! You are the bread of life, the food for our hungry Spirits and we give you our grateful thanks.

Amen.

Blessings, Kristin and Maureen.

 

Wednesday, Apr. 29

Today’s Easter Word: Redeem

This Week’s Scripture Ref: Luke 24:13-35

When the disciples on the road to Emmaus told the stranger they met (who was actually Jesus) about what had happened to Jesus, they said “we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.” (Luke 24:21)

Jesus is called the Messiah (Christ is the Greek word for Messiah), and those who followed him expected him to be the Messiah that the people of Israel had long-waited for. For a people suffering under Roman rule, the redemption they expected would see the people of Israel free from oppression. Many would have hoped that Jesus, as the Messiah, would have led an uprising against Rome in order to accomplish this. But instead, Jesus was crucified by Rome. The people of Israel remained under occupation by the Roman Empire.

But the redemption that Jesus brought was different than was expected. Jesus redeemed through love, peace, and hope.  He proclaimed God’s Way of peace and justice, instead of the Empire’s way of violence. His commandments were all about love: of God, of neighbour, of self, even loving one’s enemies and praying for those who persecute you!

And Jesus’ death and resurrection was a sign that God rejects death and injustice, and that God can bring new life even out of the most hopeless of situations. The disciples say they had hoped that Jesus would be the one to redeem them, but ultimately Jesus gave them a hope that looked a little different than they expected. We, as his disciples today, continue to have hope that although oppression and disappointment and pain may still be in the world, God is working in us and in the world, guiding us to love, inspiring us to peace, and redeeming and renewing all of Creation, including us, so that “God’s kingdom come, and God’s will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven”.

I wonder, have you ever felt like these disciples, like your hopes have been dashed? Have you ever hoped that God would answer your prayers in a certain way, but it didn’t happen?

Let us pray:

God of Life and Love, we pray for all those who are discouraged and full of despair. Be with us, when our hopes have been dashed. Help us to see that you continue with us, redeeming and renewing us in ways that we may not be able to see at the moment. Lift our spirits, and help us to encourage one another along the way. May we put our hopes and our trust in you and your never-ending love and mercy for each one of us. Amen.

With Blessings,

Kristin and Maureen

 

Tuesday, Apr. 28

Today's Easter Word: Prophet

This Week's Gospel Reference: Luke 24: 13-35

On the road to Emmaus, Jesus’ enquiry caused the men to stop walking, staring at this stranger in disbelief! In today’s vernacular their response might have been, “Hey man, you’ve gotta be kidding. What planet do you live on?”  Telling the stranger of recent events, they declared their leader Jesus, a ‘Prophet’, mighty in word and deed before God and the people. They shared the hope that had died in them, when the one they thought might be ‘Messiah’ had succumbed to death by crucifixion. Their sorrow and disappointment was evident!

The biblical definition of ‘prophet’ is.“One who tells the will of God to the people; a religious teacher and preacher, embracing both political and spiritual advisors and warners”[1] That quote affirms that Jesus was political, as he tackled areas of injustice throughout his ministry! The definition continues: “Christ is the preeminent and eternal prophet” (preeminent meaning:  “Above all”).

As the three continued walking, it was Jesus who talked.  He gently rebuked them for foolishly not believing all the prophets had foretold.  It was only at the table in the breaking of the bread their eyes were opened and Jesus faded from their sight.  

In these times of Covid 19 and recent tragic events in Nova Scotia, we may feel like we are walking our own road to Emmaus, downcast and disappointed as we stumble along.  We need a prophet who can give us a head’s up about our future, reassuring us that we will be OK!

Jesus might also rebuke us, reminding us that God is with us always.  “For nothing can separate us from the Love of God in Christ Jesus”.  Read Roman’s 8 today!  Then ask the question, how many times on your road to Emmaus have you already met Jesus?  Another question for dinner conversation, “Who are some modern prophets”?

Let us pray:

Risen Christ walking beside us, open our eyes to the beauty all around us, so it may feed us. Open our eyes to the pain of others that we might feed them. And in so doing, receive blessings in abundance. Amen.

Peace,

Maureen and Kristin

[1] The Dictionary-Concordance Inclusive -Josh V. Collins /pub: J. Holman co.

 

Monday, Apr. 27

Today’s Easter Word: Near

This Week’s Gospel Reference: Luke 24: 13-35

“Two of them were going to a village called Emmaus… Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” (Luke 24:13-16)

Jesus comes near to these two disciples when they are at their most sad and confused, and goes with them. What a beautiful image, of Jesus walking that road along with them, not keeping his distance because of their sadness, but drawing near to them, and, as the rest of their walk shows, encouraging them and filling their hearts with the fire of God’s love.  It reminds me of the poem “Footprints”, where a person looks back on their life and sees it as two sets of footprints side by side: theirs and God’s. During the most difficult parts of their lives they saw only one set of footprints, but it was not because God had left their side, but because in those moments, God had carried them.

Scripture is clear that God does not ever leave us alone. Acts 17:27-28 says “God is not far off from each one of us, for in God we live and move and have our being”. But Psalm 34:18 also says that “God is near to the brokenhearted”.  While God is always near us, as near as the air that both surrounds us and fills us with breath, it seems that when we are brokenhearted, God draws even more close to us. Perhaps that is because it is God’s nature to care for us, and perhaps it is because in those moments when we need God all the more, we may allow God even closer.

My prayer is that you all may feel God near you, as near as breath. And if you are feeling brokenhearted today in any way, may you feel God drawing all the more near to you, to walk with you on this road, and if necessary, is carrying you.

Nadia Bolz-Weber offered prayers for yesterday https://nadiabolzweber.substack.com/, and I’m going to repeat part of her prayer here, and add a bit of my own to it.

Let us pray:

Holy God, hear my prayers, for the struggling, the brokenhearted, the exhausted, and the despairing, I ask that your comfort, your presence, and your peace be felt. And if that’s not possible, could you just nudge the right person to reach out and call them? Just that Lord. Just that? And if I am to be that person to reach out, may it be so, may I feel that nudge and not shake it off. Holy God, hear my praise, for the little things that give me comfort, that make me laugh, that inspire me to love and feel gratitude. I praise you for all these little gifts of life, the things I no longer take for granted, I give you thanks, Amen.

Blessings,

Kristin and Maureen