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Daily Devotionals

Hosting Worship

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike ‘What’s next, Papa?’ God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children.” Romans 8:15-16 MSG

This morning as you head into worship gathering consider how you are a host. In the weeks to come many will risk coming to church for the first time in a while. How are you ready for such people? Imagine God nurturing a resurrection life in them and sending them to your faith community to equip you and you them.

If you knew there would be a guest next to you, would you come earlier to meet them or give yourself some margin to be able to talk with them afterwards? If you knew your place of worship would be a sanctuary for such folks, how would you greet fellow members and invite them into the work of hospitality.

If you want them to encounter God in prayer, song, communion, discussion, and scripture what would you offer to help them with in the service? If you want them to encounter God in you and your neighbor, what would you be ready to do?

This Lenten Sunday consider giving yourself up for Lent. Consider offering your church community to the others who will come. Consider yourself a host, a midwife, and adoption agent working out the will of God in that place where you’ll gather. 

Take a couple minute now to journal or quietly visualize the steps of your morning, where you’ll be, who you’ll see, what you’ll talk about. Re-read the above passage and consider how you are equipped with the Holy Spirit to help make this passage come true in the lives of others as they gather for worship.

Eyes to See

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike ‘What’s next, Papa?’ God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children.” Romans 8:15-16 MSG

This Saturday morning slowly re-read the passage above. 

Rub your hands together until they get warm. Lay them on the crown of your head. Invite God’s Spirit to confirm who you really are.

Again, rub your hands together until they get warm. This time lay them on your lap or against your chest. Imagine a child crawling up into your lap. Imagine being asked, “What’s next, Papa?” or “What’s next, Mama?” Imagine being in one of your parent’s laps asking the same question.

Breath deeply and imagine God ready to tell you this morning, telling you what is next. Take a few minutes to rest in this thought. Greet God with that expectation now.

Finally rub your hands together vigorously a third time. Now cup your warm fingers and cover your eyes. Invite God to open your eyes to see in the next hour what is next for this resurrection life you have ahead of you today. 

Faithing Practice

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike ‘What’s next, Papa?’ God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children.” Romans 8:15-16 MSG

In our recent Wednesday night worship class we discussed the hours of prayer. For generations Christians have practiced the liturgical calendar as a way of stepping in time with creation- the long shadows of Advent, the new light of Christmas, the bright sadness of winter’s Lent, followed by the spring rebirth of Easter and the fiery warm birth of the church on Pentecost. Christians have also celebrated practices of daily prayer- some at meals, others every third hour, others early at morning or before retiring at night. In each season, at every hour, our prayers help us consider what time it is–from God’s perspective. Prayers help us listen for God’s present, that timeless presence of God.
 
These sort of prayer routines are ways to practice our faith. When we pray that this “is the day the Lord had made,” we are protesting the notion that anyone else makes the day. When we “pray without ceasing,” we listen for signs of God in our every day, our every moment. They are ways of adventurous expectation.
 
In last night’s class we also asked about faithing our everyday practices. Think of your day ahead. What appointments will you have? What breaks do you have planned? When will you be in the car or communing in a carpool or bus? Can you put a reminder on your phone or on a note card to faith those moments? One friend who enjoys baking recently shared that she prays a prayer every time she sprinkles salt into a dish. Another friend puts a note in his lunch bag. Others set timers on a certain hour of the day… Its less important what your practice is than experiencing the fruit of making one up
 
What is one daily practice that  you could fill with faith? Share this with one other person as a reminder to keep it up for the week.
 
Troy Bronsink
Curator of Art and Worship

Between Death and Resurrection

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike ‘What’s next, Papa?’ God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children.” Romans 8:15-16 MSG

The above painting is “Christ on the Cross” by sixteenth century painter El Greco. Take a couple minutes to notice the subjects in the painting, the color, the lighting, the foreground and the background.

Nun and art critic, Sister Wendy Beckett describes Spanish Renaissance painter El Greco as a unique artist who altered the style of the earlier Renaissance in order to say particular things. Here’s how she describes his work in this painting:

“El Greco shows Jesus, with his naked body, long, slender and gleaming with light as He opens His arms on the cross. He is alone. Behind Him surge black clouds, shot through here and there by brilliant light. But it is as if all the brightness in this dark and tragic world comes from Jesus. We can dimly see behind and below him the pale bones of other victims, and in the distance men on horseback, waving banners, set off toward a fortified city. The world is leaving Him. Yet Jesus is triumphant, not despite His wounds and crown of thorns, but because of them, through them. He rises. In death He expresses the Resurrection. Jesus did truly die, but He went into death and out of it into glory. Somehow El Greco makes visible both aspects of the Crucifixion, what it was in itself and what it was mystically. Time separates ‘Christ has died’ from ‘Christ is risen”; we move through one to the other. But here we have both together, each given full weight. If I can look at Jesus in His Passion and at the same time see Him in His glory, I have no need to flinch. This is what the agony meant, that He would soar into the freedom of the Spirit. Everything in this painting draws me closer to God, to the silence that is prayer.” 

This Lent consider how you are invited to join Christ, to pick up your cross and to follow. To face death and resurrection. Can you notice moments “when the world is leaving you?” Can you, like Christ, recognize those death-dealing blows as invitations to “soar into the freedom of the Spirit?” When are you “drawn closer to the silence that is prayer?”  

Grab a sheet of paper or journal and write about these or other thoughts that come to mind. Notice if or when you are led by the Spirit. How might life’s circumstances be inviting you to soar? 

Close by reading the Romans passage above and offering this day ahead of you to a resurrection life in the here and now. Invite God to touch you today and confirm to who He is and who you really are. 

Troy Bronsink
Curator of Art and Worship

One

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike ‘What’s next, Papa?’ God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children.” Romans 8:15-16 MSG

One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should
One life
With each other
Sisters
Brothers
One life
But we’re not the same
We get to 
Carry each other
Carry each other
 
One…life
 
One.
 (Bono, U-2)

God is big on this idea of being one.  Being in honoring relationships with each other, working on being good neighbors, forgiving one another, carrying each other, being committed to living in intentional ways in a community…these are all principles that God exhibits to us and with us.  Jesus, God in the flesh, modelled what it means to live in community with others and with God.  Jesus’ very character as God’s son is intensely relational, intimate, and authentic.  Jesus invites us into the very relationship that he shares with the Father (John 17:20-24).  Jesus invites us to be “one” with him.
 
That’s our desire deep down as well.  To know and to be known…we long for community. 
 
As you live in this season of life, may you have eyes and ears to see and hear the community that God has given you…and may you have the courage to live as one with others and with a God who desires and models the same.

Rich Jones
Associate Pastor for Students and Families

 

What’s Next?

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike ‘What’s next, Papa?’ God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children.” Romans 8:15-16 MSG

This morning begin by reading the passage above. Take time to read it aloud.
 
Begin by inviting the Holy Spirit to touch your spirit and to confirm your identity. Where does your spirit lie? How would you know if God’s Spirit touched your spirit?
 
Think of the various ways your body has felt in the last three days. What gave you energy? What depleted your energy? When were you discouraged or encouraged?
 
Imagine God, the resurrector, touching your life at its deepest point. What courage would that give you to follow where you are most energized? How would those energy-depleting moments be over shadowed? How would that discouragement be redefined? Imagine joining those women and men on the first Easter encountering the resurrected Jesus until that enthusiasm growing into expectation, asking “What’s next Papa?”
 
Set your timer for 5 minutes and imagine sitting with God as a parent, and asking, “What’s next?” Don’t rush into your own ideas of what’s next. And don’t rule out those things that appear dead and finished.
 
What is next?

Accepting our Frailty

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.” Romans 7:21-23 MSG

 frailty 

This morning as you gather for worship be aware of the “covert rebellion” that you and your fellow congregants share in common. 

Recall Jesus in the Upper Room explaining to Peter why he needed to have his feet washed and pointing out to John that Judas would betray him. Jesus’ journey included accepting the frailty of his colleagues. Our inability to be God does not exclude us from participating in life with God. How can you extend the same grace to those you worship with?

As you meet volunteers and staff this morning, thank them for their contribution to worship. As musicians, liturgists, and ministers lead, ask yourself if you are extending the sort of grace that God extends to you. As you great and pass the peace to fellow worshippers, thank them for their part in influencing and contributing to the morning’s gathering. And as you go into your day and week, ask the Holy Spirit to teach you how to show yourself that same grace.

While you are on campus be sure to pick up a peach sheet to see those friends of the church who need your prayers. 

Embrace Not Exclude

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.” Romans 7:21-23 MSG

“Forgiveness flounders because I exclude the enemy from the community of humans and myself from the community of sinners.” 
-Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace
 
Withholding forgiveness is a hard habit to break. Spend some time with this quote by Croatian theologian, Miroslav Volf. There are two parts to the statement, the second being the most pertinent to Romans 7:21-23. Here are some questions to help you go deeper into this quote. Consider using the following if it meets an invitation you have already felt from God—no need to force this and certainly no need to place a heavy burden on yourself to follow these as some sort of overnight to fix an unreconciled relationship.
 
That said, take a look at the following prompts and then bring them with you on a walk today- either through your neighborhood or through another public place such as the mall or Findlay Market. 
 
Part One: Our enemies are fellow humans

  1. Bring to mind two people you now keep at arms length (physically or emotionally) this could be a sibling, a boss or employee, an ex-spouse or neighbor.
  2. In the spirit of curiosity ask God about this person, “What did You create them for?” “What might Your grace be accomplishing outside of my purview, at the margins of their life or deep under the surface?” or “How is Your image be manifested in them?”
  3. Consider, “Who is enfolding them with the same love in which You, God, have enfolded me?”
  4. Now look around you and see others who are also forgiving reconciling relationship. Notice yourself as part of this human race created in God’s image.

Part Two: I am a member of the community of sinners

  1. All week we’ve been contemplating wretchedness. If you can stand to look at it once more, what one symptom of this is reoccurring in your life?
  2. Sin is both individual and communal. In Scriptures we hear God rebuking nations for their extortion of the needing, for ignoring the vulnerable orphan and the widow. Each culture, each society, each city and neighborhood is made up of individuals, sinful individuals, who contribute to systemic oppression. We are not without blame for the suffering we see others experience in the world.
  3. Consider the pain of those you are walking by. How has your sin affected them?

We won’t always be able to safely accomplish the reconciliation God intends for all things, but these prayers can help shape our habits as disciples to be ready when opportunities present themselves.
 
Lord, teach us this Lenten season, and throughout our lives to embrace as you do, and to confess and turn from wretched tendencies to exclude. In the power of the resurrected Christ we pray. Amen

This Vulnerable World

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.” Romans 7:21-23 MSG

Look at the wider world and ask God “Where is sin taking over in the world?  How am I a part of this? Where do I need to focus my prayers today?”
 
Henri Nouwen writes, “I was suddenly faced with my naked self, open for affirmations and rejections, hugs and punches, smiles and tears, all dependent simply on how I was perceived at the moment.”  (from In the Name of Jesus. ) Self-righteousness is one type of defense we often put up against such vulnerability. Confession includes letting loose of the righteousness we presume for ourselves- opening ourselves to God in the new moment. Does this sound at all familiar to your life?  Share this with God. 

Notice how this is similar to the vulnerable world in which we live and with/for whom we pray. Consider all the economic, political, and cultural forces we belong to that contribute to the very things you have been led to pray for. Can we dare to approach these concerns with the same degree of vulnerability?
 
There are missionaries in our city and across the globe who live in the midst of this vulnerability as ambassadors of reconciliation. You and I are called to be these sort of missionaries. Northminster is particularly supporting the mission work of Scott Quay and his wife Gina through prayer and financially.  Scott grew up at Northminster.  He and his wife are now in full-time ministry with World Impact in Los Angeles.  They work with young people at risk in a rough part of L.A. and share the good news of Jesus with these youth.  Please pray for Scott and Gina’s strength and safety.

Laurie Laning, NMPC Missions Director

Lean Into the Braid

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.” Romans 7:21-23 MSG

While we are on this 40 day Lenten journey toward the cross, stop for a moment and think about what Paul is struggling with in the verse above.  Isn’t the never-ending internal battle so frustrating?  Think back for a moment on this week and places where you wanted to do the right thing, but just couldn’t do it.  Were there words you wish you could take back?  Did you miss the opportunity to help someone?  To show love?  To encourage?  Sit for a moment and focus on that pull… that tension inside between the temptation to follow our selfish instincts and the conviction of the Holy Spirit.  Picture a frayed rope barely staying together. Somedays we might feel like we’re just about to snap…
 
In marriage ceremonies we often hear that a triple braided cord is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).  But whether you are married or not, you are part of another triple braided cord.  You are a member of the bride of Christ, so there is yourself, the church, and Jesus.  We need the support of being closely bound with the church (meaning those who are of Christ), in order to withstand the pressures of sin, temptation, discouragement, pain, grief, and so much more. 

With that in mind return to those moments you missed from the paragraph above.  Pray for those people.  How might you invite them to pray for you? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you a way to connect with your brothers and sisters this week to simply love them and be loved by them.  You are the bride of Christ, His beloved.  Live into that love.

Jeff Holmes
Intern for Crosspoint Worship and Art