Oct
14
12:00 AM00:00

2 Corinthians 1:12-24, True Power

Key Verse

As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been “Yes and No.”
— 2 Cor. 1:18

RCL Daily Devotion for Monday, October 14, 2019

RCL Daily Devotions written by Dr. Kimberly Leetch from RCL Worship Resources (see more).

oskar-schindler.jpg

Paul’s rivals had a differing view of Christian living than Paul. They wanted a much more severe response and punishment to human failings. They accused him of flattering the Corinthian church, of saying what they want to hear to appease them (“yes” to their “yes” and “no” to their “no”). Paul writes to assure the Corinthians that his gentleness was not flattery, but was instead a proclamation and offering of God’s grace.

In the movie, Schindler’s List, Oskar Schindler is a business man during World War II using labor camps as cheap labor for his business. He begins to feel pity, then compassion, and then love his workers, and he begins to feel protective of them. He has this conversation with ruthless military leader Amon Goeth.

===

Oskar Schindler: Power is when we have every justification to kill, and we don't.

Amon Goeth: You think that's power?

Oskar Schindler: That's what the Emperor said. A man steals something, he's brought in before the Emperor, he throws himself down on the ground. He begs for his life, he knows he's going to die. And the Emperor... pardons him. This worthless man, he lets him go.

Amon Goeth: I think you are drunk.

Oskar Schindler: That's power, Amon. That is power.

===

Schindler knew what we would do well to learn, that true power does not come in heavy handed punishment, but in grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

God, show me the full depth of your power. Amen.

 

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Oct
13
12:00 AM00:00

Luke 17:11-19, True Wellness

Key Verse

TEXT HEREThen Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they?
— Luke 17:17

RCL Daily Devotion for Sunday, October 13, 2019

RCL Daily Devotions written by Dr. Kimberly Leetch from RCL Worship Resources (see more).

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Main Idea: Our gratitude can make us well.

Did you notice the healing of the one? Ten lepers were healed; one returned with gratitude for the one who healed him. When Jesus recognized the gratitude of the one, he said, “Your faith has made you well.” Interesting, since Jesus had already healed him. Ten men were healed of their leprosy. Only one was “made well” by his faith. It highlights how important gratitude is for our whole wellness of body, mind, and spirit.

Gratitude is not a reaction. It is proactive (or not). It is a practice that needs to be, well, practiced. We have to work first at noticing the things in our lives for which we can be grateful. Awareness is hard sometimes. When I’m buried under bills and running through my schedule, it’s easy only to notice what isn’t going well. But when I take the time and effort to become aware of the accomplishments, the relationships, the moments – then gratitude becomes easier to achieve.

After awareness is the act of thanking. First, thanking God for God’s role in it all. Then, thanking those involved in making the moments wonderful. Sometimes the act of thanking is verbal. Other times gratitude can come in the form of a hug, a card, a service, or simply presence. Interestingly, when I take the time and effort to become aware and then to express my gratitude, the blessings of a grateful life do return, and whole body, mind, and spirit wellness finds me.

How do you show gratitude?

 

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Oct
12
12:00 AM00:00

Luke 5:12-16, The Antidote for Busyness

Key Verse

But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.
— Luke 5:16

RCL Daily Devotion for Saturday, October 12, 2019

RCL Daily Devotions written by R. Fergus Moir from RCL Worship Resources (see more).

Life is busy. How’s that for stating the obvious? I have friends with young children and they’re frequently overwhelmed. I, myself, have teenagers going multiple directions at any given time. My parents are long retired but report being busier now than when they were both working. Somehow in the crush of daily living, time evaporates and we find ourselves running to stand still.

When it came to busyness, Jesus’ life left ours in the dust. Once word of his teaching and healing abilities got out, the man was constantly inundated by crowds of people desperate for a word of hope in a seemingly hopeless world. And while Jesus had compassion for all those who sought him, he understood the importance of self care.

Time and again in the gospels, Jesus goes off on his own to spend time one-on-one with God. Jesus is a model for us in this regard. When we’re overworked and overwhelmed, God is calling out to us, inviting us to pause and pray, promising us rest and rejuvenation.

When will I take time out to spend with God today?

 

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Oct
11
12:00 AM00:00

Psalm 66:1-12, More than Movie Magic

Key Verse

Come and see what God has done:
he is awesome in his deeds among mortals.
He turned the sea into dry land;
they passed through the river on foot.
— Psalm 66:5-6

RCL Daily Devotion for Friday, October 11, 2019

RCL Daily Devotions written by R. Fergus Moir from RCL Worship Resources (see more).

I remember watching DeMille’s The Ten Commandments when I was a kid. That scene with the parting of the Red Sea was something else! A God who can do that is a mighty God indeed. But I never saw anything like that happen in real life. Where were these “awesome deeds” God is supposedly capable of?

I have come to know that God’s deeds in the world are far more awesome than anything Hollywood special effects can create. With those sorts of things we are merely observers. God, on the other hand, invites us to be full participants in God’s world, drawing us into the wonder of all creation, inspiring us to work together for justice, transforming our lives, and leading us in the way of eternal life. I’ll take that over an epic movie any day.

Where have I witnessed God’s awesome deeds recently?

 

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Oct
10
12:00 AM00:00

2 Timothy 1:13-18, “Guarding” Reimagined

Key Verse

Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.
— 2 Timothy 1:14

RCL Daily Devotion for Thursday, October 10, 2019

RCL Daily Devotions written by R. Fergus Moir from RCL Worship Resources (see more).

My kids are my greatest treasure, gifts that have been entrusted to me, and I have spent the last 20 years guarding them to the best of my ability. That doesn’t mean I have hovered over them and protected them from all pain—quite the contrary. I have allowed them to grow and flourish as they will, guiding and supporting along the way. (Imperfectly, of course. I’m no saint!)

God entrusts each of us with an even greater treasure: the truth of God’s saving love for us and for all creation through Christ Jesus. Guarding that treasure isn’t about hiding it away, but about being a good steward of it, allowing it to grow and flourish, and releasing into the world through acts of love and service. We don’t do this alone any more than I parented my kids alone. The Holy Spirit lives in us, inspiring us to allow God to minister to the world through us.

Holy Spirit, help me to be a good steward of the gift of your saving love. Amen.

 

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2 Timothy 1:13-18

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Oct
9
12:00 AM00:00

1 John 5:1-5, World Conquest

Key Verse

And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith.
— 1 John 5:4b

RCL Daily Devotion for Wednesday, October 9, 2019

RCL Daily Devotions written by Daniel D. Maurer from RCL Worship Resources (see more).

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Historically speaking, the Bible has always been considered a “dangerous” book. You can see this two ways: one side of it is because the Bible shares so many revolutionary ideas. I can dig that.

But the other side of it is that ancient scripture taken out of context can be twisted and misconstrued to fit our own agendas.

“Insider” language can be relayed to the “ignorant” public so that the receiving party completely rejects the message because it seems too out of synch with the way the world really works.

I see the concept of Christian “conquest” this way—followers of Jesus weren’t meant to dominate others and destroy all other religions. (Even though—news flash—that’s what happened and continues to happen.) Instead the conquest of the world was meant to be a gift for those who felt the oppression of power in the first place.

The Bible is much more a salve than a rod to spank naughty children.

This week, think how you convey the message of the Good News to others.

 

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Oct
8
12:00 AM00:00

Psalm 137, Uninhibited Evil

Key Verse

Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock!
— Psalm 137:9

RCL Daily Devotion for Tuesday, October 8, 2019

RCL Daily Devotions written by Daniel D. Maurer from RCL Worship Resources (see more).

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Far be it from me to exaggerate the violence we can read in the Bible, but this one probably has to top the charts. Look at the image of the child above.

Now, juxtapose that image with the reading in Psalm 137:9.

Then you tell me whether the Bible pulls any punches about the raw violence human beings are capable of.

Yeah. Tough, ain’t it?

However, today the point I want to raise is how real the Bible can be and how effective it is as a mirror to the human condition. One thing that makes me keep coming back to it as a spiritual guide is that scripture doesn’t require that we use our imaginations to see how truly evil we can be, but also our capacity for goodness. The potential is there to go both directions.

Which one will we choose? How does holy scripture both convict and save us?

 

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Oct
7
12:00 AM00:00

Habakkuk 1:5-17, Their Own Might

Key Verse

Then they sweep by like the wind; they transgress and become guilty; their own might is their god!
— Habakkuk 1:11

RCL Daily Devotion for Monday, October 7, 2019

RCL Daily Devotions written by Daniel D. Maurer from RCL Worship Resources (see more).

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Say what you want about the relevancy of Bible passages, without a doubt, many of them have nothing to do with today’s global political situation. (One does wonder whether any leader throughout history could be compared to Donald Trump, though.)

There is an interesting connection with today’s reading from the minor prophet Habakkuk. The passage tells of the Chaldeans, who pretty much though that they were king of the hill, and none could stand in their wake.

The big surprise (or maybe not so surprising) is that, historically speaking, the Chaldeans and so many other political legacies never, ever last. They all think that their might is enough to get by and last forever.

But it’s not, and it won’t ever be.

How does the United States as a country act in this same manner? How is it different today?

 

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Habakkuk 1:5-17

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Oct
6
12:00 AM00:00

Luke 17:5-10, Perspective

Key Verse

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
— Luke 17:5

RCL Daily Devotion for Sunday, October, 6, 2019

RCL Daily Devotions written by Dr. Kimberly Leetch from RCL Worship Resources (see more).

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Main Idea: We can find joy in our serving, even when we are not recognized for our service.

By this point in Jesus’ ministry, he had become quite famous and revered. It’s no surprise his disciples would let it get to their heads. As any good entourage, they rode the high of Jesus’ success.

But Jesus knew his work was for more than fame and recognition. There was genuine, important work to be done. He took this opportunity to remind them of the mission and ministry. He warned them not to let the fame elevate them too high to help common folk – not to become stumbling blocks or obstacles for those who were just trying to get close to Jesus – to learn, be healed, or bask in the presence of a loving and culture-shifting leader. He reminded them not to become too big to forgive. They were following Jesus for a greater purpose – to serve, not to be exalted.

I’m not gonna lie – when I was a parish pastor, I often lived for the moments I could shine as a leader, preacher, or teacher. When I left parish ministry, it was a long, hard fall from pseudo-fame and recognition to complete and utter nothingness. Suddenly I had no more Christmas presents for the pastor, no accolades for my awesome preaching, no hugs from beloved parishioners. It was just me in my house with my family. (And yes, they love me too, but they’ve seen the person who loses her temper, farts, and sleeps in too late, so they’re much less enamored by me.) It was in this lonely time I had to learn what it truly meant to serve without recognition – to cook meals every day, just to find my teens had just eaten a huge bowl of cereal; to pick up dog poop only to step in another land mine; to sit at my laptop all day, only to have my family ask me to run errands because I’m “home all day.” It was here that I learned it had to be enough to know I was doing God’s work, even if nobody else on the planet recognized it.

There’s a genuine peace of knowing and accepting this reality. And it makes, “Thanks for dinner, mom” so much sweeter!

 

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Luke 17:5-10

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Oct
5
12:00 AM00:00

Matthew 20:29-34, So Moved.

Key Verse

Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they regained their sight and followed him.
— Matthew 20:34

RCL Daily Devotion for Saturday, October 5, 2019

RCL Daily Devotions written by R. Fergus Moir from RCL Worship Resources (see more).

Growing up, I thought God was detached from human affairs. Historically, the institution of Christianity has painted a picture of a distant God, an old, white man in the sky barely touching the finger of Adam at creation, and nothing more.

Jesus reveals a very different God, a God who is vitally present in the minutia of everyday life, a God who wraps himself around us completely, a God who loved us so much she took on human form and became one of us in every bodily way.

This is a God who is moved with compassion by the pains and trials of living in the world. We cry out to God, “Have mercy on us!” and God touches our eyes and reveals a love so profound we cannot possibly comprehend it. Having received such grace, how can we do anything else but follow?

Ever-present God, lead me in your paths each day. Amen.

 

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Matthew 20:29-34

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Oct
4
12:00 AM00:00

Lamentations 3:19-26, God, Grant Me Patience. And Hurry!

Key Verse

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.
— Lamentations 3:25

RCL Daily Devotion for Friday, October 4, 2019

RCL Daily Devotions written by R. Fergus Moir from RCL Worship Resources (see more).

I’m not good at waiting. When things aren’t going well, I want them to be fixed now. My instinct is to plow through the problem on my own will, and do everything in my power to make things better. Frankly, it doesn’t work. In fact, a lot of times, my frontal assault of the issue makes things worse. I step on others’ toes, hurt feelings, and wind up no better off than when I started.

God is good to those who wait for her, to the soul that seeks her. Instead of acting as if I’m God, it is far better to cultivate patience and turn to God in prayer. It’s not easy. But when I sit with my discomfort and ask for guidance, often the answers come, solutions present themselves, and I am led to right action, rather than self-righteous action.

Patient God, when I am struggling, help me to always show your grace and mercy to all who call upon you. Amen.

 

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Lamentations 3:19-26

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Oct
3
12:00 AM00:00

Revelation 2:8-11, Not the Path of Least Resistance

Key Verse

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Beware, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have affliction. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
— Revelation 2:10

RCL Daily Devotion for Thursday, October 3, 2019

RCL Daily Devotions written by R. Fergus Moir from RCL Worship Resources (see more).

I don’t think I’m unique in thinking that life should be easy. I’m steeped in a culture that promises me the next great thing is going to solve all my problems and let me kick back and do nothing. When I crash headlong into unexpected challenges, I’m thrown into resentment and fear.

But here’s the thing. Truly following Jesus is not easy. Putting God and neighbor first requires effort and sacrifice. Living into the gospel message of God’s radical acceptance and justice is going to put us into conflict with the powers that be. And this is what we are called to do.

God reminds us we are never alone, tells us not to fear what we will inevitably suffer, and reminds us of the promise of much greater things than any modern gadget can give us.

Empowering God, sustain me on the path as I follow in Jesus’ way. Amen.

 

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Oct
2
12:00 AM00:00

Matthew 19:16-22, Wishing to be Perfect

Key Verse

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
— Matthew 19:21-22

RCL Daily Devotion for Wednesday, October 2, 2019

RCL Daily Devotions written by Daniel D. Maurer from RCL Worship Resources (see more).

492-4927871_perfection-is-subjective-perfect-10-score-png.png

I was an excellent student in school, but only after I had entered high school. I think it had something to do with wanting to be superior in something other than many of my peers. I wasn’t particularly athletic, wasn’t super handsome, and didn’t have the best of everything.

But I could get good grades.

I got to feeling proud how smart I was and used it as a measuring stick to compare myself to others. I wanted a bit of perfection, at least in what I could exceed in.

Nobody’s perfect, of course. But I feel that Jesus’ thoughts in today’s reading were meant to raise that very point. We all seek to justify ourselves and ask how we can be deserving enough for God’s love. The point is that we cannot; it is simply a gift given to us.

How can striving to become perfect become an idol?

 

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Matthew 19:16-22

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Oct
1
12:00 AM00:00

James 5:1-6, The Inevitable Disappointment of Wealth

Key Verse

Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you.
— James 5:1-6

RCL Daily Devotion for Tuesday, October 1, 2019

RCL Daily Devotions written by Daniel D. Maurer from RCL Worship Resources (see more).

According to Martin Luther, the 16th Century reformer, the Epistle of James didn’t have a whole lot to say. In fact, if it had been up to Luther, he might have tossed out the epistle from the canon of scripture.

Lots of that has to do with Luther’s fixation on the whole work-vs-gift-of-faith thing, but scripture in all its forms usually has something to say about the human condition. Today’s daily reading from the RCL is no exception. The topic? Money and the inevitability of disappointment.

I think religious folk forget how often scripture criticizes the pursuit of wealth. Looking at some mega-church buildings, one has to wonder what people think they’re doing in today’s world.

Yet, I take today’s harsh reading not so much as a moralization, but rather as a warning that everyone, rich and poor, would do well to heed. The fact is that all the world’s “real success” we strive for simply isn’t what lasts in eternity. That message is worth thinking about at least.

God, guide my heart to use money for good rather than seeing it as an end in itself. Amen.

————

Finish devotion with short prayer written in the first person or a thoughtful question for your readers.

 

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James 5:1-6

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Sep
30
12:00 AM00:00

Revelation 3:14-22, Neither Hot Nor Cold

Key Verse

I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
— Revelation 3:15-16

RCL Daily Devotion for Monday, September 30, 2019

RCL Daily Devotions written by Daniel D. Maurer from RCL Worship Resources (see more).

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My wife will be the first to attest that I am a passionate person. Things get me riled up! Sometimes, it’s inappropriate.

Like most people, it’s easy to lose perspective.

Recently, my mother ended up in the hospital for a suspected heart attack or sepsis. Right now they still aren’t sure. What this time has taught me is that our parents are only with us for so long. One day, they will be gone.

All of the sudden, all of the things that I had been fussing about didn’t matter as much. When I heard the news she was sick, I went to reconsidering the really important things in life:

Relationships, Love of Others, God’s Purpose in the World.

Being hot about things is fine. But just be sure that the things you’re hot about really do make a difference in the long run.

What about you? Hot? Cold? Lukewarm?

 

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Sep
29
12:00 AM00:00

Luke 16:19-31, Showing Up for Real in the World

Key Verse

He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
— Luke 16:30-31

RCL Daily Devotion for Sunday, September 29, 2019

RCL Daily Devotions written by Dr. Kimberly Leetch from RCL Worship Resources (see more).

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Main Idea: We have everything we need right here to make informed decisions about how we will show up in the world.

Years ago, I saw an episode of the sitcom, Wings. The younger, less responsible brother asked a priest, “So, I can live any way I want, and if I repent on my deathbed, I’ll be forgiven?” The priest said, “Yes, but...” That was all the youngest heard. He found his older brother and reported, “Hey, I think I’ve found a loophole in this whole ‘hell’ thing!”

The whole conversation raises the question, “What do we need to do to be saved?” This parable suggests that the rich man didn’t do enough and was therefore punished with an eternity in hell. The poor, suffering beggar apparently did just enough to earn a spot in heaven. Seems pretty clear. Or does it?

Maybe this isn’t about what happens after we die, but what happens before we die. Maybe this isn’t a parable about heaven and hell in the afterlife, but heaven and hell here on earth. This life is hell to those who are suffering and heaven to those who seem to be charmed. The point of the parable was that the rich man could take a look at the life he was leading here on earth, and how his affluence (and accompanying apathy) created hell on earth for the beggar. For those of us hearing this parable and still living on this earth, it is not too late to take a new look at the way we live our lives – who suffers because of us, and who is blessed because of us. The parable suggests that we have everything we need right here to make informed decisions about how we want to show up in the world. We have Moses and the prophets, and (hint, hint) we will soon have one who is raised from the dead. Maybe the human plight isn’t about earning a spot in heaven. Maybe the human plight is about bringing about God’s kingdom here on earth. Every word, thought, and action can bring about or crush God’s kingdom.

How will we show up in the world?

 

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Luke 16:19-31

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Sep
28
12:00 AM00:00

Luke 9:43b-48, Here’s a Hint

Key Verse

Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.
— Luke 9:48

RCL Daily Devotion for Saturday, September 28, 2019

RCL Daily Devotions written by R. Fergus Moir from RCL Worship Resources (see more).

Jesus’ disciples were bickering about who was the greatest among them. And why not? They were human, after all. Everyone harbors at least a little  secret desire to feel superior to other people. It’s hardwired into our genetic instinct for survival, and as a result, is deeply ingrained into every aspect of our society.

But Jesus has no time for human instinct or worldly culture. He came to turn everything we know on it’s head, to teach a new way—God’s way. So when he catches the disciples asking one another who’s the greatest he picks up a child and says, “Here’s a hint. It’s not you.”

I need to get my own ego out of the way so I can see what Jesus is saying clearly. My job is to build others up from under, not tear them down from some imagined “above.” The helpless and the powerless, the child and the oppressed—these are the greatest in God’s kingdom.

God, help me to be one among many, and to love and serve others from a place of humility. Amen.

 

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Luke 9:43b-48

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Sep
27
12:00 AM00:00

Ephesians 2:1-10, Measuring Up

Key Verse

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast.
— Ephesians 2:8

RCL Daily Devotion for Friday, September 27, 2019

RCL Daily Devotions written by R. Fergus Moir from RCL Worship Resources (see more).

I’m so grateful I don’t need to meet some special criteria in order to qualify for God’s grace. Having grown up steeped in a society hyper-focused on “success,” which is defined by some arbitrary standard, I’ve spent a lot of time worried about what other people think of me, about whether I’m measuring up.

These days I work at letting go of what the world defines as success, so I can focus on what is needful. And what is needful is my relationship with God, who accepts me as I am, who gifts me with a ridiculous abundance of grace and mercy, and who promises everlasting life.

Generous God, thank you for teaching me what is truly important in my day to day life. Amen.

 

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