Friday, September 25, 2020

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom.” —Colossians 3:16

What a wonderful concept, letting the word of Christ dwell in you richly! I love that thought! I also know that when I don’t do this, I find myself feeling more stressed and worried about things than I should be if the words of Christ were dwelling within me. The words of Jesus are actually anti-stress, when you think about them. “Do not worry about your life” (Matthew 6:25,). “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28), “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). These are just a few of the words of Jesus.

I also like the second part of this verse, which was left out of the daily text. The full verse is this: “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts” (Colossians 3:16). I also find my heart is lighter when it is filled with gratitude for God and all that God does for us. Even on our worst days, we can still find things to be grateful for, and gratitude for all that Christ did for us, up to and including dying on the cross for our sins and redeeming us through his death and resurrection!  

So today, and every day, allow the words of Jesus to dwell in you richly and bring you peace. Amen.  

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Today’s reflection is written by Jade Schwich.

He will swallow up death forever.Isaiah 25:7

Jesus’ earthly ministry brought the Kingdom of God to us. Jesus showed us this Kingdom through the ways in which He healed and loved and forgave those with whom He interacted. And through His death and resurrection Jesus demonstrated God’s incredible love for us by dying on the cross for sins that were not His own, defeating death once and for all.

The Kingdom of God that Jesus inaugurated, it’s here already, but it’s not here in its fullness. It’s what followers of Jesus call the “already but not yet” reality.

This whole already-but-not-yet reality thing proves pretty difficult. Death doesn’t have the final word. We know that. But death still stings on this side of the resurrection of the dead. Loss still hurts and broken relationships aren’t pain-free. 

And yet…

And yet, in the darkest of times, God is with us. God is in the midst of our loss, our broken relationships, our grief. He knows your suffering and He knows mine and He’s not afraid to step into it with us and fight our battles, providing us with exactly what we need (whether we feel like it’s what we need or not). In fact, He loves us so much that He descended into death and rose again, swallowing up death forever.

May we allow God’s Kingdom to break through even in our darkest hours.

O death, where is your sting?

Monday, September 21, 2020

Today’s reflection is written by Ann Waller.

I am shut in so that I cannot escape; my eye grows dim through sorrow.  Every day I call on you, O Lord. —Psalm 88:8-9

My whole life, I have struggled with depression. Growing up, I always felt alone even when with other people. My friends couldn’t understand why I was always “in a mood,” and, truthfully, neither could I.

As an adult, I still struggled, not knowing why. Sometimes it would get so bad that I just didn’t care about ANYTHING. I know this was hard on my family. I could see it in their faces. They would try so hard to cheer me up, ask questions to try to help, but it just didn’t matter to me. I hated that it didn’t, but I couldn’t change or shake it off.

I was raised Catholic but left the formal church because of what I perceived as their “man-made” rules. However, I used to go sit in the empty church and talk to God. I always felt His presence. I believe this is what sustained me all those years.

Finally, science caught up with my symptoms, and I was diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I was prescribed a light therapy that changed my life! I still struggle at times, but nothing like it used to be. I still talk to God, and while some days He seems distant, I always find Him! Sometimes it just takes longer.

These past six months have changed the way we live. We no longer have the face-to-face contacts that we’re so used to and dependent on. Our life rhythms are drastically different. There is an increase in fear, anxiousness, and despair for a lot of people trying to cope with this new way of living. We want our old way back. But let us not forget that God has not changed and will not change. He is still present with us through this uncertain time.

My faith kept me going all those years and still does today. I can look back and see where God intervened to help me even when I wasn’t capable of seeing it at the time. What a blessing to know God will NEVER leave us, no matter how we are struggling or what we are going through. He is a constant presence and the strongest anchor to cling to when we feel we have nothing left. He will not let us down. Thank you, Lord!