Christian, devotion, Lost luggage, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ (UCC)

Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for October 10, 2017

My luggage didn’t make it with me to Scotland. I had a hunch that it would miss its flight, or rather my flight. With a plane delayed from take off by an hour and 51 minutes, my hunch proved correct. Before even going to the baggage carousel I checked with airport claims. As I suspected, luggage MIA (Missing In Action)!  I was advised to check the luggage carousel with the other passengers on my arriving flight. I waited and waited. Soon there was only me and three unclaimed bags. 

Jesus told many stories about lost things; a son, a coin and a sheep.(Luke 15,et al). In each of those stories and others He pointed to a God that both actively searched and patiently waited. At a different time and place He said that there were others, His “sheep”, that were not of “this fold”. (John 10:16). They, too, must be found and patiently waited for. Those who take Jesus seriously are called to actively search and patiently wait for thos “sheep”, not with formulated tracts or prayers but with lives that inspire imitation. 

Lord, remind me each morning as I begin a new day that each day is a gift. Let me live in such a way that when others see me they see a true reflection of You and Your love.  Amen.

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Glimpses of Grace Daily Devotion for October 9, 2017

With the season of Fall upon us, farmers sound me are getting into their fields for harvest. This is an uncertain time as combines and grain trucks lumber down county roads. The smell of corn and beans rest upon the country air in the early morning haze and the last rays of day. 

In our first couple of parishes farmers would take a load or two to the local grain elevator and say, “This load is the Church’s.” Others would put signs the declared “God’s Acre” on a corner or two of their fields. Fall harvest heralds the end of a season as well as the uniquely American holiday of Thanksgiving, a holiday increasingly by overshadowed by Halloween and Christmas. In one of his letters to the Thessalonians, Paul wrote, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” God imprinted a spirit of gratitude upon the human heart. In that spirit we set aside a percentage of our own income and time and ask ourselves if we are doing not only what God wants us to do but to be. We are challenged to strive for significance more than success. When we do this, we become a glimpse of grace.

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Glimpse of Grace Devotion for September 25, 2017

“And when the women went to the tomb they found it empty.” Luke’s gospel.
The picture is that of a “Resurrection” lily in our front yard. They go by a variety of other names, too. They are scattered around the edges of our yard. I suspect that sometimes a squirrel or two may dig one up and “replant” it. The flower is called a Resurrection lily because its first bloom is in the Spring, generally around Easter—the day of Resurrection in the Christian faith. Occasionally it blooms in late summer or early fall. Then it dies back and is generally forgotten, at least by me, before it shoots once again up through the earth and proclaims a new beginning.

Life is full of new beginnings. The idea of new beginnings lies at the heart of the Christian faith. A loved one, a relationship or a way of life dies but by the grace of God something new grows in the empty space. 

At this time of year it is good to reflect upon the spring and summer seasons that have come to an end. Something new is about to begin. Something beautiful. Something unexpected. It is good that when the women went to the tomb that they found it empty. It is good because it was a herald that God was doing something new. And God is still at it, in your life

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Glimpses of Grace Devotion for September 3, 2017

On the next to last evening of a week long continuing education in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina I received a gift that took my breath away and brought a tear to my eye. A member of my group of four called me over. She was sitting on a church pew with her husband who was recovering from extensive brain surgery. Standing in front of them, her husband reached into his pocket and handed me a horse shoe in the shape of a fish, an early symbol used by followers of Jesus to identify one another. 

Before his surgery he had been a blacksmith, skilled in all aspects of the art of “smithing.” It had been two years since he worked although anvil and hammer, forge and fire. A local smith let him use his shop that afternoon where he made two fish from two horseshoes. And he gave one to me! Why, I wondered. We had shared a meal, some conversation and laughter–every day activities hardly worthy of such a gift. But therein lies the glimpse, the gift in spite of my unworthiness. 

The gift was nothing short of an act of grace. Amazing grace that comes to us not because we are worthy of the gift, but because the giver simply wishes to give it! For God so love the world that He gave…(John 3:16a), not because of who we are or what we have done but because God simply wishes to give, unconditionally. And when we receive the gift, truly receive it, we do so in total humility. 

Lord God, give me a heart that is truly humbled by Your grace, Your love that knows no bounds. Amen. 


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Glimpses of Grace Devotion for August 30, 2017

When I was a child I was afraid of the dark. I was convinced that the night contained all kinds of scary life-threatening things. My mind would be on red alert, and I would eventually fall asleep from panic exhaustion. Then, one night, my parents put a night light in my bedroom and in the hallway outside my room. The threat of the darkness was broken.

Robert Voyle once wrote, “When children are afraid of the dark, we don’t turn off the dark. We don’t need to spend time analyzing the darkness or where it came from, or eloquently describing its subtle shades and nuances, or romanticizing the darkness, or fighting the monsters that roam in the darkness. We just need to turn on the light! And in the words of Martin Buber, if we teach children to see and carry the light that is within her or him, she or he need never be afraid of the darkness.”

As I write this a former colleague sits beside the bed of his critically injured son, a wife sits beside the bed of her critically ill husband, a son plans the funeral of his father and a nation and prays for the people in southeast Texas.

Jesus said that those who take Him seriously are “the light of the world.” We are called to shine the light of Peace, Hope, Joy and God’s Love into all of dark places of God’s world.

Lord, show me how to let my light shine brightly so that others will not be afraid. Remove my fear and fill my life with the Light of Your Love. 

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Glimpses of Grace for August 29, 2017:Walking in the Dark

I’ve walked in the dark a lot in my life. Maybe you have, too. I don’t mean spiritual or psychological darkness but the physical darkness of the night in homes, buildings, and wooded areas. Over the years I’ve learned a few important things.

First, be alert and watch for shadows. They often indicate drop offs or dips of one sort or another.

Second, and most importantly, slide your feet along the surface without putting your weight on the front foot so that you can keep your balance and control.  It’s a lot like ballroom dancing.

My wife and I ballroom dance. Over the years I learned that the best ballroom dancers seldom “pick up” their feet. Rather they slide them forward. This is particularly true in my case, as my wife often wears open toed shoes. Sliding my foot cuts down on toe injuries–her’s, not mine!

Third, follow the lead. In any ballroom dance, and in any walk, someone has to lead.

Ye, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear no evil… (Ps. 23: 4) There are many dark places in life. When you walk through one, which you will, remember to watch the shadows. Slide your feet forward. Keep your balance. And follow the lead of the One “Who brought you.”

Lord, make me sensitive to Your lead in life’s “dance”. Amen.

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Glimpses of Great ace Daily Devotion for August 26, 2017

While staying at a retreat center in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina I saw a sign posted in the lobby: “There is increased bear activity in the area. Use extra vigilance when hiking, running or jogging. Dogs must be kept on a leash.”

Before sunrise I took my morning walk, not realizing that I was walking at the edge of the increased bear activity! While I was in no real danger, I’ll be more on future walks, needless to say.

I got to thinking, though, of something the prophet Hosea wrote centuries ago; God is as protective as a mother bear is of her cubs (13:8).  God loves each of us as if we were an only child. All of us are precious. All of us. When we hurt one another, God feels a mother’s pain. And God will respond to redress the wrong. The greater the wrong, the greater the response we will be. 

It is up to we who take Jesus seriously to not only speak out for the voiceless but to act for the defenseless. Our action, though, must never be in the spirit of anger but with a resolute sense of justice. When this happens, we become glimpses of living grace.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace: where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.  Amen. (Attributed to St. Francis)

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