Wednesday, March 23, 2016
The following is a devotional written by Rev. Kristin Heiden at Roswell UMC in Roswell, Georgia. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a blessed Holy Week!
Monday, March 14
Free to Forgive
They continued to question him, so he stood up and replied, "Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first stone." Bending down again, he wrote on the ground. Those who heard him went away, one by one, beginning with the elders. Finally, only Jesus and the woman were left in the middle of the crowd. Jesus stood up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Is there no one to condemn you?" She said, "No one, sir." Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, don’t sin anymore." John 8:7-11
The Pharisees once again try to trap Jesus, as they present to him a woman caught in adultery. They remind Jesus that law states she should be stoned as a result of her egregious act. They then ask Jesus, “What do you say?” They think they have him now - if he says to stone her then maybe he isn’t so different from the teachers of the day, and if he says she is not to be stoned then they can accuse him of disobeying the law of Moses. But, in typical Jesus fashion, he responds in a new way - only he who is sinless may carry out the punishment. Of course, none of the Pharisees can honestly say they have never sinned, and so the woman is left without any accusers.
I think we can identify with a lot of the characters in this story, whether we want to or not. How often have we been the woman, caught in our sin and awaiting the punishment that will come? Frightened, embarrassed, ashamed, we stand before God and our peers feeling dirty and exposed. But, have we not also been like the Pharisees, quick to point out the sins in the lives of others? We may feel a sense of pride and our ego is boosted as we position ourselves as greater or holier than the sinner. But, that feeling is fleeting, as it is not long after that the situation is reversed once more.
Jesus sets us free from both characters, reminding us that, yes, we are all sinners, but that we all are deserving of forgiveness. May we seek to live a different life, not of the accusers or of the accused, but of the forgiven and redeemed people of God.
Let us pray:Forgiving God, how quick we are to see the sins in the lives of others and seek to judge them, ignoring our own sinful nature. Help us to live into the freedom of forgiveness for ourselves and our brothers and sisters in Christ, remembering that we are not to cast stones but to live a life transformed by your grace and forgiveness. Amen.
Thursday, March 17, 2016
Bethany UMC’s Walking Prayer Group meets on Sunday afternoons. We begin with a devotion and pray and then it’s time for our walk. Sometimes we walk in the neighborhoods around the church and on other occasions we walk the trails or tracks of our local parks. I wrote this devotion for a Sunday when we walked at Mud Creek Soccer Complex, which has a giant oval track, several fields and a great playground. It’s a busy place where our community gathers for soccer practice, games, exercise and fun.
Walking Prayer Group Devotion
February 28, 2016
I have been thinking about “circles” lately. No worries, I won’t break out singing “The Circle of
Okay, yes, the track is really in the shape of an oval. Work with me.
Anyway, a circle doesn’t have a beginning or an end. It is said to be “never ending.” God’s love is never ending. That’s good to know. We never have to fear a shortage of God’s love. There’s enough to go around. There’s enough of Divine love for God to share it with all of creation into infinity and way, way, way beyond it.
We also use the word “circle” to talk about our relationships. i.e. “church circle”, “social circle”, “circle of friends”, or “circle of influence.” We are connected to others in these circles by kinship, interest, careers, politics, beliefs or more. There is “something” or “someone” that brings us together to form these “circles.”
As Christians, we are brought together through the experience of knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We are a diverse circle of “believers” growing in grace. We are a diverse circle of believers called to love God with our heart, being and mind and our neighbors as ourselves.
This “Christian Circle” is designed to be expandable. It’s been that way for over 2000 years.
So, let’s expand the “circle of believers”. It grows when we share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and encourage others to experience saving grace. It grows when the community around us encounters the never ending love of God through our words and deeds.
Matthew 22:36-40 Common English Bible (CEB)
36 “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 3 And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself.b40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
John 13:34-35 Common English Bible (CEB)
34 “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. 35 This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.”
Rev. Pam McCurdy
Pam is the Minister of Discipleship at Bethany UMC in Smyrna, Georgia. You may reach her at email@example.com.
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