Aug
24
12:00 AM00:00

Luke 6:1-5, You’re Not the Boss of Me

Key Verse

But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”
— Luke 6:2, 5

RCL Daily Devotion for Saturday, August 24, 2019

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

I’m a rule follower. Always have been. As a kid, I was terrified to get in trouble in school, so I did as I was told, and got irritated (and probably self-righteous) when I saw other kids breaking the rules. If Jesus had said to me on Sabbath day, “Hey, grab some grain and snack on it as we pass through this field,” I probably would have gone cold with anxiety.

The Pharisees were rule followers, too. That was their thing. And if they were going to follow all the rules, then everyone else had to follow them, too! This is partly why Jesus drove them so crazy.

Jesus didn’t just disregard the rules disrespectfully. He understood and loved God’s law. But Jesus’ very presence with us re-wrote the rules. It was as if he looked at the Pharisees and said, “You’re not the boss of me.” Jesus deferred to a higher authority than the Pharisees, and claimed his truth as God’s messiah.

When is it right to disobey a rule?

 

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Luke 6:1-5

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Aug
23
12:00 AM00:00

Psalm 71:1-6, Always Children

Key Verse

For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from my birth; it was you who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.
— Psalm 71: 5-6

RCL Daily Devotion for Friday, August 23, 2019

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

I grew up in a small church. Those people were my extended family, and that place was a second home. My childhood faith was steeped in the love of that wonderful community, and as a result, I have leaned upon God from my youth, as my hope and my trust.

Having a strong church upbringing was no guarantee that I would hold onto that childhood faith—like so many, I wandered. I wondered. I couldn’t make sense of God in light of the world. Yet underneath it all, there was a yearning. I knew that the church—the body of Christ—was my home.

In Christ, we are all children. It doesn’t matter when we come to faith—we can begin as children all over again, and we may hope and trust in God for all of our lives.

When did I first experience the love of God in community?

 

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Psalm 71:1-6

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Aug
22
12:00 AM00:00

Psalm 66, Presence

Key Verse

Blessed be God,
because he has not rejected my prayer
or removed his steadfast love from me.
— Psalm 66:20

RCL Daily Devotion for Thursday, August 28, 2019

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

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In our day of technology, it's easier than ever to connect with people who live far away. Or close by, for that matter. At my age, I get excited to Facetime my family in California (I live in Minnesota). It's a special treat to see my distant family on holidays and special occasions. Kids today, however, Facetime in place of phone calls. They'll Facetime even when they just saw each other and they're going to see each other again in 1/2 hour. What a crazy awesome world we live in!

Still, there's something about Facetime that just doesn't quite fill the void of real presence. I have a theory that our bodies exude an energy (aura, perhaps?) that is palpable only when we're in close proximity. Facetime can't replicate a hug, a scent, or that energy that can only be felt when we're together. I don't know if I really have a word to describe it, but maybe it's... presence.

Today's psalm celebrates God's presence. It's God's listening ear. It's God's steadfast love. I imagine the psalmist celebrated God's energy, aura, scent, touch... presence. Today as you envision God's presence in your life, see if you can tap into God's energy, aura, scent, temperature, size, and weight. Imagine the palpable presence of God on your skin, in your nose, before your eyes, on your tongue, and in your ears. God is here. Truly, wonderfully, marvelously, physically here.

 

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Psalm 66

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Aug
21
12:00 AM00:00

Psalm 8, Mindful of Humans?

Key Verse

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
4 what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them?
— Psalm 8:3-4

RCL Daily Devotion for Wednesday, August 21, 2019

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

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I dig science fiction. I also dig regular science, science.

One of the things that totally blows me away is the size of the universe. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger! Generally, most people find that their eyes start to glaze over when I mention that in our galaxy there are billions of stars, and that in the universe there are billions of other galaxies all with billions of stars!

In some ways, I believe the God we read about in scripture seems too small, almost petty when you think of the jealous acts God committed in the Old Testament. But maybe that’s the point of Holy Scripture for us, today. Perhaps we’re challenge to grow in our understanding just how LARGE our God is.

It is amazing, therefore, that God cares for each one of us. Even me.

Thank you, God, for caring when there are so many other things to care for. Amen.

 

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Aug
20
12:00 AM00:00

Psalm 2, Follow the Leader?

Key Verse


Why do the nations conspire,
and the peoples plot in vain?
— Psalm 2:1

RCL Daily Devotion for Tuesday, August 20, 2019

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

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Whether you are politically conservative or liberal, I think you will agree that the American presidential election of 2016 was the most divisive in modern history. President Trump stirred up in people a vast range of emotions from hatred and fear to hope and trust. Whether you are a Trump supporter or not, it is clear to me that the election glaringly showed a desperate need for someone to follow -- a deep longing for a leader we can place our trust in.

I think our longing will never be satisfied as long as we are placing our trust in people. People are fallible. People are flawed. People will fail us. Maybe it is time to shift our allegiance from people to God.

What might this world look like if we placed our trust and faith in a God who does, in fact, lead? What if we followed a leader (God) that is fiercely loyal, who loves radically, and who takes risks for the sake of justice?

 

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Aug
19
12:00 AM00:00

Psalm 118:21-27, Claire Rejoiced

Key Verse

I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
The stone that the builders rejected
— Psalm 118:21

RCL Daily Devotion for Monday, August 19, 2019

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

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The day was blustery; cloudy, cold, rainy and windy. Two of Claire’s children were home, sick. One had an ear infection and the other the stomach flu. Claire’s husband didn’t have any days left that he could take off. Claire could work at home, so she was elected to care for the kids. Claire didn’t mind working from home, but a major project was due and she was stressed out about completing it. The fact that she had to care for two sick children did not ease Claire’s stress.

During the afternoon nap time, when the children were actually sleeping, Claire sat down with a cup of coffee. She opened up a devotional book and began to read the selected text, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). Claire reflected on those words. She really didn’t feel in the rejoicing mood. Certainly she couldn’t be glad that her children were sick or that the deadline for her project was drawing near. Claire thought hard had discovered that the day did contain reasons for which she could be thankful.

Claire rejoiced that she had a home to keep her warm and dry on that blustery day. She gave thanks for her two wonderful children and for her loving husband. A job that she liked and good friends were other reasons for which she could be grateful. There were also those constants no matter what the day was like: God’s steadfast love, unconditional forgiveness and overwhelming grace. As Claire thought about the day, her attitude changed. She started thanking the Lord for specific blessings in her life.

Claire rejoiced because of God’s presence, God’s power and that she lived in a relationship with the Lord.

 

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Psalm 118

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Aug
18
12:00 AM00:00

Luke 12:49-56, Disagreement & Division

Key Verse

‘I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!
— Luke 12:49

RCL Daily Devotion for Sunday, August 18, 2019

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

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Main Idea: Lasting change comes with disagreements and divisions.

This is a hard text to swallow. I don’t like thinking of Jesus as one who comes to divide. I’m all about unity and collaboration and getting along. But there are times when divisions become necessary. Many of the Jews were working closely with the oppressors from Rome, and things needed to change. Change would not come easily. Many were quite comfortable with their situations. Others suffered because of it. Jesus knew that the only path to lasting change would require soul searching and a willingness to change. Some would be ready. Some would not. And the difference would divide.

In the US, we are living in a heated time when divisions are bubbling to the surface with passion and fire. People are voicing and expressing their opinions, and the volume is rising. And I think it’s good.

Without the conflicts, the disagreements, the heated debates, nothing will ever change. And we are most certainly not living in a perfect world. Things have to change. People on opposing sides from me my have different ideas of what needs to change and how to change it, but we mostly agree the status quo is no longer working. I believe we will come out the other side of this in a better place. We will all have a better understanding of one another. We will be more tolerant and accepting of people unlike us. We will have policy changes that are good for everyone. But until then, we experience the pain of division.

We can take it. Growing pains.

 

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Luke 12:49-56

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Aug
17
12:00 AM00:00

Matthew 24:15-27, Signs and Omens

Key Verse

For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.
— Matthew 24:24

RCL Daily Devotion for Saturday, August 17, 2019

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

Personally, I believe capitalism is the greatest of false messiahs this world has ever seen. We grow up in a culture steeped in the idea that money solves all our problems. That money is to be accumulated at all costs. That more is better, and even more is even better. This false messiah produces great signs and omens: celebrities, billionaires, private jets, if-you-can-buy-this-you-will-finally-be-truly-happy!

These signs and omens are so ingrained in my psyche that I have to fight every day against the urge to buy in (no pun intended) and be led astray from God’s simple message of love, justice, and community.

Gracious God, draw my attention away from false messiahs that I might rest in the one true messiah, Christ Jesus. Amen.

 

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Matthew 24:15-27

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Aug
16
12:00 AM00:00

Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19, Put Down the Axe

Key Verse

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock! You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh. Stir up your might, and come to save us!
— Psalm 80:1-2

RCL Daily Devotion for Friday, August 16, 2019

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

We could use a little saving don’t you think? Sometimes I look around at the world and it’s all I can do not to spiral down into despair. All the violence, the injustice, the oppression—and that’s just in this country.

The Psalmist speaks of how God planted a vineyard—God’s beloved people—and it has fallen into ruin, ravaged by the nations that surrounded it. The cry for restoration is heartbreaking. And so terribly, terribly contemporary. Except that the nation ravaging the vineyard is our own, and we, ourselves, hold the axe at the root of God’s beautiful vine.

The word of hope is that God does Shepherd us, leading us like a flock. If we but follow, we may yet be saved.

Where can I follow God’s command to bring peace and healing to the world today?

 

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Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19

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Aug
15
12:00 AM00:00

Psalm 80, Restoration (of Engines, Cars, and Us)

Key Verse


Restore us, O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.
— Psalm 80:3

RCL Daily Devotion for Thursday, August 15, 2019

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

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It’s always been a dream of mine to restore an old car someday. And not like the junkers you see in the photo above!

No way.

I’ve always been drawn to the late 60s and early 70s ponycars. Mustangs. And I know that I’d wanna get one that had a gas-guzzling, roaring engine, too.

People are kinda like cars, too. We wear out. We need restoration from time to time.

Except that, with us, we need the one who built us in the first place to restore us, spiritually.

I just hope that I get a nice, fast engine when I go to that church retreat next month!

Lord, restore my faith to be the person I was built to be. Amen.

 

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Psalm 80

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Aug
14
12:00 AM00:00

Luke 12:41-48, Diets and . . . Diets

Key Verse

And the Lord said, ‘Who then is the faithful and prudent manager whom his master will put in charge of his slaves, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time?
— Luke 12:42

RCL Daily Devotion for Wednesday, August 14, 2019

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

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I've been on way too many diets. Most have not helped me. Here's the main reason - they were not lifestyle changes. They were temporary fixes to a permanent problem. They were based on deprivation and will power. Here's what has worked. When I made changes to my eating habits that were healthy, tasty, fueled my body, and extremely satisfying. It took work at first, but as the changes became new habits, it became easier. And my body craved the new foods. I felt like this was a new life for me, not a desperate attempt to cheat nature.

I think this story of Jesus' is similar. He wasn't asking people to go on a fad diet - to strive through worry and intimidation to stay awake in the middle of the night. This approach is bound to fail because it's not genuine nor is it lasting. What will work is a lifestyle change - changes that are satisfying because they fit right. Behaviors and attitudes that become new habits because they are good and healthy, lasting, and satisfying. This is the kind of readiness and preparation that we can sustain until the day Jesus calls us home.

What ways do you ready yourself each day?

 

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Luke 12:41-48

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Aug
13
12:00 AM00:00

Hebrews 11:17-28, The Faith of Abraham

Key Verse

By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac.
— Hebrews 11:17

RCL Daily Devotion for Tuesday, August 13, 2019

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

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How beautiful! Abraham “set out for a place… not knowing where he was going.”

I’ve found in my own life that those moments are the best moments of my life. At 21, while my parents were vacationing in Spain, I got a job 2 hours away, moved into an apartment, and started a new life with the man who is now my husband of 23 years. At 25 we moved from San Francisco to Minneapolis so I could attend seminary and have been here for 23 years. Five years ago I was stirred once again to make a major life change. I left pastoral ministry in a parish to start Clergy Stuff and write Bible-based for a living.

It was a quick process, but it wasn’t uninformed. Over the course of a few months God stirred my insides like a beaten egg, placed all the right people in my path the encourage and educate me on the pros and cons of making such a dramatic move, and then gave me the courage to jump. Remember that scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Indiana had to take a “leap of faith” and step off the precipice not knowing if he would plummet to his death? Yeah, it was like that. (Check out the scene here.)

In all the times God has egg-beaten my insides to follow, I’ve never regretted the move. (It hasn’t been all easy, holey moley! There have been many, many failures, rocky starts, and terrifying moments.) I have often regretted risks I didn’t take. But following God has always turned out to be worth the ride.

 

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Hebrews 11

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Aug
12
12:00 AM00:00

Psalm 11, God C's You

Key Verse

Flee like a bird to the mountains;
for look, the wicked bend the bow,
they have fitted their arrow to the string,
to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart.
— Psalm 11:1b-2

RCL Daily Devotion for Monday, August 12, 2019

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

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The artist, Marina Abramovic spent three months performing her art at MoMA.

Her art was this -- she sat in a chair across from an empty chair. Museum goers were invited to sit in the chair. She looked at them. No, she looked deeply into them. The exhibit was wildly successful. People stood in line for hours and even days just to get 15 minutes to sit with her. Her exhibit demonstrated the deep need people have to be seen.

This psalm describes a God that sees us. At first glance, it might seem disconcerting to imagine a God whose eyes are always on us -- images of Big Brother come to mind. But when we put God's vision in light of the draw of Abramovic's art exhibit, the text brings a completely different meaning.

In a world where people are screaming for attention, it seems many of us are craving for someone to notice us. We get lost in a sea of celebrity, crowds at concerts and sporting events, and social media streams. Will somebody, somewhere, notice us?

God sees you. You are not alone. You are not anonymous. You are valuable. You are worthy. You are seen.

An interesting thing happened one day as Abramovic was performing her art. Her long-time lover, whom she had not seen in 23 years, sat across from her. Suddenly, the artist known for seeing was being seen by someone who had loved her once. It was a profound moment for both of them. The artist that was seeing could not participate in the exhibit without also being affected herself.

God C’s you. And God, the artist, is profoundly affected by being seen by you.

When do you know that God can see you?

 

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Aug
11
12:00 AM00:00

Luke 12:32-40, Small Changes, Bit by Bit

Key Verse

‘Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks.
— Luke 12:35

RCL Daily Devotion for Sunday, August 11, 2019

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

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Main Idea: We can make ourselves alert and ready by making incremental changes to our lifestyle.

I’ve been on way too many diets. Most have not helped me. Here’s the main reason: they were not lifestyle changes. They were temporary fixes to a permanent problem. They were based on deprivation and willpower. Here’s what has worked: when I made real, lasting changes to my eating habits that were healthy, tasty, fueled my body, and extremely satisfying. It took work at first, but as the changes became new habits, it became easier. And my body craved the new foods. I felt like this was a new life for me, not a desperate attempt to cheat nature.

This story of Jesus’ is similar. He wasn’t asking people to go on a fad diet – to strive through worry and intimidation to stay awake in the middle of the night. This approach is bound to fail because it’s not genuine nor is it lasting. Jesus expects people to live in a state of alertness and readiness. He wants people to be aware and active, not passive and content. Such a state cannot come through quick fixes. Toughing it out won’t work.

What will work is a lifestyle change – changes that are satisfying because they fit right. Behaviors and attitudes that become new habits because they are good and healthy, lasting, and satisfying. Increasing our generosity by increasing our giving incrementally. Donating our time doing things we have a passion for. Helping change poverty, human trafficking, and global changes first by increasing our awareness of these things, and then by determining how we might become involved. This is the kind of readiness and preparation that we can sustain until the day Jesus calls us home.

Thank you, God, for preparing me. Now I just need to see that I can make the changes you wish to see. Amen.

 

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Luke 12:32-40

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Aug
10
12:00 AM00:00

Matthew 6:19-24, Treasuring God

Key Verse

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
— Matthew 6:21

RCL Daily Devotion for Saturday, August 10, 2019

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

I used to be a compulsive spender. Any time I traveled anywhere, I had to buy a souvenir, buy something to try to hang on to the experience. On my one trip to the UK many years ago, I bought so much stuff I had to buy another suitcase to bring it all home. None of those things I bought succeeded in making the experience last. And I was often so distracted by trying to find the right thing that I missed out on what was going on around me. My heart was absorbed with money and stuff, rather than with being in the moment of my amazing trip.

So it is with God’s love. At the end of this passage it says you can’t serve two masters: you can’t serve both God and wealth. It’s one or the other. We are so completely immersed in our money-driven culture I’m not sure we even realize just how distracted we are from God, how frequently God takes a back seat to our attempts to control our financial security. But Jesus is clear: whatever we count as our treasure becomes our God.

O God, my Treasure, help me to put you first in all things. Amen.

 

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Matthew 6:19-24

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Aug
9
12:00 AM00:00

Isaiah 9:18-10:4, Parenting: Not for Wimps

Key Verse

Ah, you who make iniquitous decrees, who write oppressive statutes, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be your spoil, and that you may make the orphans your prey! What will you do on the day of punishment, in the calamity that will come from far away?
— Isaiah 10:1-3a

RCL Daily Devotion for Friday, August 9, 2019

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

God gets angry a lot in the Old Testament. I’m no fan of the punishment or warrior God language in the Bible, if I’m honest, but I have to acknowledge that we, as a people, from the beginning of time, are pretty infuriating. God has been nothing but good to us, and has put forth clear and simple guidelines for how to live together in harmony with one another. But do we listen? No. We “turn aside the needy from justice and rob the poor of their right.”

As a parent, I have been often flabbergasted by my children’s seeming inability to make good choices—not just things they should do because it makes my life easier (although that’s nice), but things they should do because it makes their lives easier! I got infuriated a lot.

God is more gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love than I am. I wonder if God spoke such harsh words through the prophets because the people simply would not respond to any other language. I don’t know. I’m not God. But I am a parent, and if God is the ultimate parent of all of humanity…I kind of feel God’s pain.

Mothering God, have mercy on me for all the pain I have caused you. Amen.

 

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Isaiah 9:18-10:4

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Aug
8
12:00 AM00:00

Isaiah 9:1-17, A Beautiful Thing

Key Verse

For all this, his anger has not turned away;
his hand is stretched out still.
— Isaiah 9:12

RCL Daily Devotion for Thursday, August 8, 2019

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

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Isaiah's "Peaceful Kingdom" text is a beautiful description of what this world might look like if we were living in peace. "The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid." It depicts typically adverse relationships becoming loving ones. A peaceful world is one where love reigns over conflict and hatred.

When people are at odds, I believe the entire conflicted relationship stems from a misguided desire to make others do what we think they should do. Let's look at some of the cultures and subcultures at odds in our world today.

  • Some conservative people hate the LGBT community. They believe it's wrong, and the community ought to change or hide who they are.

  • White supremacists believe blacks are inferior. They believe black people are dangerous or stupid, and should be locked up because they can't behave like they think they should.

  • Terrorists believe privileged worlds are mindless, self-indulgent consumers. They believe the lifestyle is wrong, and should be punished with the penalty of death.

All of these conflicts come, not just because people disagree with one another, but because people demand others change to become more like them. There's no wiggle room for independence, for differentness, or for free thought. No room for two seemingly conflicting ideologies to exist in the same space.

Isaiah's description of a peaceful kingdom doesn't describe a lion shedding his mane and starting to grow wool. It doesn't suggests that the bear will stop walking on two legs and walk only on four like the cow. A peaceful kingdom doesn't require that the animals (or people) stop being who they are -- except where being who they are is harmful to others. The peaceful kingdom does describe bears grazing like cows, because the alternative is eating the cow. It does describe snakes refraining from biting a child, because the alternative is the child's death. A peaceful kingdom gives us space to be who we are, as long as our behaviors aren't harmful to others. A peaceful kingdom doesn't demand people change to be more like us just because we think they should.

I get overwhelmed when I consider the entire world and the sheer magnitude of making this a peaceful world. But I don't have to solve the world's peace problems. I only have to do what I can to make my part of the world a peaceful world. This means I refrain from imposing my ideologies, perspectives, and behaviors on others. I give the people in my world space to be who they are, even when their behaviors are displeasing to me. In my family we are free to make our own mistakes and experience the consequences of our mistakes. How else will we learn? We are not free to engage in behaviors that harm ourselves or others. But we can be ourselves.

My house is a peaceful house, for the most  part (nobody's perfect). I can see glimpses of cows and bears grazing together.

And it's a beautiful thing to behold. Thank you, God. Amen.

 

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