Thursday April 30 2020

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Scripture: Exodus 20:1–21

Key verse: (7) You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

Reflection: What does it mean to wear a jersey? My high school varsity soccer coach would remind us that when we put on the colors of our school and when we wear the crest of the soccer program, we represent something bigger than ourselves. We were reminded that we are playing for something bigger. We must respect the colors and the crest — on and off the field. What jersey do you wear?

I believe this is how we can think about the third commandment. This commandment goes beyond speech; it is our living that is of concern. In the context of the larger narrative, the giving of the commandments can be understood as providing the people with a sense of purpose and identity.  Here is where we find God’s intention for the now freed people, detailing the covenant from chapter 19 that they will be a “priestly nation and holy kingdom.” The third commandment details our living after we have taken the Lord’s name (Christian) as our own.

When we claim to be Christian, professing our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we take on the holy name. We wear the jersey of Christ. We must respect the colors of grace and forgiveness and love. We are called to respect the crest of the cross, reminding us we are living for something bigger than ourselves. To make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God would be to act against love, to make a mockery of grace, and to serve self over others. As Christians, we wear the jersey of Christ, in all we do. May we do our best each and every day.

Prayer: God, who drapes us in love and grace, the one who calls us to proclaim your glory in word and deed: we give you thanks and praise. May we be humble servants in your name and for the sake of your name. We pray in the name our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Author: Ben Brannan

[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].

Wednesday April 29 2020

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Scripture: Psalm 118

Key verse: (1) “O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!”

Reflection: This is a song of victory most likely sung after winning a battle.  The first verse is a familiar one.  It is found in many hymns and songs of praise.  It reminds us of who God is and how God loves.  There are so many times in life that we need to know God will not leave us. There are battles in life that don’t involve armies or war.  These battles are experienced within and without.  Worry and anxiety or fear and uncertainty can rob us of joy. We are living in an uncertain time.  So many people have died in our country from an invisible enemy.  We want to win the battle against COVID 19, but preventing and curing a new virus takes time.  In the meantime, we have stayed at home and now we are experiencing what some are calling quarantine fatigue.  We want to go back to our regular routines. Some have at their own peril.  No matter how many wonderful pictures of fun we see on-line, it’s not all fun time with family.  There is financial stress, educational concerns, graduation disappointments, togetherness stress, isolation, loneliness and unemployment.  These things weigh heavily on our hearts.   The Psalmist writes: “out of my distress I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me . . .”   What wonderful words to remember when the tough times come.  And they have. One thing that this stay at home order has taught me is that we are in this together and God is with us.  The Holy Spirit connects each of us to one another in a profound fellowship centered on God.  So I invite you today to meditate on the words below then ask yourself:  Where do I take refuge – in the hope of everything returning to normal or in  the steadfast love of the LORD that endures forever?

O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!

Out of my distress I called on the LORD; the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place.

With the LORD on my side I do not fear.

What can mortals do to me?

The LORD in on my side to help me; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to put confidence in mortals.

It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.

O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!

Prayer:  Gracious God, we give thanks that nothing can separate us from your love.  Come to our assistance today and take away our fear that we might live confident lives of faith in the face of the unknown.  Keep us safe and help us structure our lives in such a way that we might grow in faith and in love.  In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Author: Deborah Conner

[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].

Tuesday April 28 2020

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Scripture: Colossians 1:1-14

Key verses: (3-4) In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints.

Reflection: “In our prayers for you, we always thank God!” Who are you thankful for? Perhaps you are thankful for the members of your family and the small acts of kindness that express their love. Perhaps you are thankful for your neighbors who wave to you on your daily walk. Perhaps you are thankful for teachers who have provided guidance and direction for you when you needed help. Perhaps you are thankful for classmates and co-workers who have partnered with you to do great work. Perhaps you are thankful for friends who have shared your laughter and your sorrow.

The letter to the Colossians opens in a traditional format of salutations and then a prayer of thanksgiving. The writer is thankful for the Christians who live in Colossae, for their faithfulness and for the love they have shown in community. The writer also prays for the Colossians, that they “may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” and then “lead lives worthy of the Lord.” The prayer shifts from gratitude to intercession, from thankfulness to spiritual hopes.

In this time when we are dealing with isolation, we might feel that our connections to one another are dampened and weakened. Let us remember that our connections might be physically distanced but still spiritually strong and vibrant. We have been given the gift of prayer, the opportunity to reflect with gratitude on those we love and the opportunity to pray for them and their well-being.

Mr. Rogers, the beloved host of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, began every day with a time of prayer, praying for individuals by name, from a list or journal he kept. Who are you going to pray for today, with gratitude and intercession? Who is on your prayer list? Your prayers will deepen your connection to God and to your loved ones even in this distanced time.

Prayer: In my prayers today, I am thankful for all the people who have shown me love, shared their faith with me, and taught me to live with wisdom and faithfulness. I pray for them now by name. Strengthen them as they face this day and equip them to follow Jesus where he leads. In his name I pray. Amen.

Author: Millie Snyder

[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].

Monday April 27 2020

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Scripture: Matt. (1:1–17) 3:1–6

Key verses: (3-6) In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3 This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,

“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.’”

4 Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

Reflection: John might just be the person we need to hear from today. This was a man who lived in isolation most of his life and reached Jewish society by removing himself from it. Sound familiar? His training and much of his ministry took place in the desert. Unpopulated, desolate and quiet. His ministry was in the middle of nowhere.

At a time when we are separated, I wonder what word this scripture has for us?

Throughout this time of separation, the youth of the church have been wrestling with the idea that something has awakened in their life, soul and hearts. During our times together, they have mentioned that they were asleep, numb to the joy of everyday life but now they feel alive. John the Baptist had a radical way that meant to wake people up from their spiritual slumber and to call them to task. John’s message was urgent. The coming of the King was at hand.  John was direct and let them know that they had some work to do.

Do we?  We have been doing some work on ourselves but are we awake?

Prayer: Awaken us, O God. Let us not fall asleep again to the joy of living. Amen.

Author: Michelle Thomas-Bush

[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].

Slight Changes to Daily Devotions

Good morning,

Thank you for subscribing to Daily Devotions from Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC! We wanted to reach out and inform you of some slight logistical changes to our daily devotions that are necessary due to some limitations of our blog platform, which is now nearly eight years old:

  • You will continue to receive devotions from our pastors in your email inbox every weekday
  • You do not need to take any action to continue receiving devotions via email, but
  • We will begin shifting delivery away from the old method (WordPress) to the new method (Mailchimp) on Monday, April 27, 2020
  • You may receive duplicate devotions for a few days as we transition

Since we began Daily Devotions seven years ago, the clergy of Myers Park Pres have written over 1,600 devotions. Thanks be to God! Since we have closed our church facility during the COVID-19 pandemic, these devotions have served as a way to begin each uncertain day grounded in faith.

Join us for Morning Prayer
Weekdays at 8 a.m. | Zoom Link | Zoom ID: 532-670-347
We have also begun a Morning Prayer service each weekday morning via videoconference. If you would like to join our clergy for this brief prayer service grounding us in faith for the day ahead, download the Zoom app on your phone, tablet, or computer and follow the link found above and on our website, myersparkpres.org.

Thank you for your commitment to the life and ministry of Myers Park Presbyterian Church!

John Magnuson
Associate Pastor for Discipleship

PS: If you have any questions about this transition, please reach out to hello@myersparkpres.org!

Friday April 24 2020

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Scripture: Exodus 16:23-36

Reflection: Today’s devotional is based on Exodus 16:23-36. It’s in a video form. You can access it here or by clicking the image below.

04 24 Joe

[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].

 

Thursday April 23 2020

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Scripture: Psalm 47

Key verse: (7) “For God is king of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm.”

Reflection: Lest we forget, let me get straight to the point: Christ is Risen and reigns as king. Period. Take a moment and read all of Psalm 47 (just click the link above!) What a joyful psalm, what a hope filled psalm, what a faithful psalm.

The Israelites, however, weren’t always quick to claim God as their king. If you read throughout the Old Testament you will find the narrative of God choosing Abraham to create a great nation, God guiding Isaac and Jacob, God calling Moses to bring the people out of Egypt and into their own land. The history of God’s people is one utterly dependent upon God from their conception through their journey in the wilderness, and into the promised land. But as soon as the people were settled, as soon as comfort and false signs of self-sufficiency crept in, as soon as the people look around at other nations and saw kingdoms with palaces and armies, God’s people wanted more. Denying God as their beginning and their end, their support and their safe haven, they asked for a king of their own.

God’s people today are not unlike the Israelites, we often hold onto our false sense of self-sufficiency, we see neighbors and want what they have, we forget about our utter dependence upon God and God’s abundant grace and provision, and we ask for other kings in our lives. I wonder what those “replacement kings” may be for you.

But the good news is that whatever we try to place above God, Christ still reigns. Christ is risen and reigns as king. In this time of uncertainty, of our worlds and systems being turned upside down, our dependence upon something and someone other than ourselves is clear. May we recognize our true king as Christ, holding loosely to all else and holding fast to our faith.

Prayer: Faithful God, we give you thanks that you call us as your people. We praise you that you care for us, even when we turn from you. Guide our eyes and our hearts to focus on your kingdom, our beginning and our end, and by your Spirit may we make that kingdom known more each and every day. Amen.

Author: John Magnuson

[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].

Wednesday April 22 2020

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Scripture: 1 Peter 2:1–10

Key verse: (9) But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Reflection: Do you feel connected these days? How has that connection changed in the last month and a half? Although we live in a “tech-connected” world, connection is something longed for these days. We can connect through Zoom, skype, FaceTime, texts, calls, even download and upload data and videos. But sometimes that is not enough.

Do you feel connected with God? This is a different kind of connection. A connection with God goes beyond social media posts or data transfers. Ancient cultures felt that humans were not worthy of divine connection. They would appoint certain individuals as spiritual advisors and shamans or priests, and these individuals would intercede on behalf of those in the community. The community needed someone to be the conduit for divine connection.

This idea changed when word came to Moses and the Israelites from Mt. Sinai: “If you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be to me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6). Upon Israel’s arrival at Mt. Sinai, Moses delivered this startling news from Yahweh. Not only was Yahweh declaring the nation’s chosen status, the Israelites, the chosen nation, were all being appointed to be priests … every one of them!

Priests are not clergy. Priests are not pastors or preachers. Clergy serve a particular function or service; pastors shepherd a community; preachers proclaim the word of God. In the Presbyterian Church USA, the ordained office of clergy is titled minister of Word and Sacrament — the service they fulfill to the community that appointed them. The priestly function, however, is one of bridge-building and connecting people to God.

You are a royal priesthood, as Peter claims, declaring praise of the One who called you from darkness into light. This is a present reality. You are a royal priesthood. God’s word has come to you not as a promise for the future but as a declaration of the present. Everyone is equally called to do God’s work and to minister to the people of God.  How do you do that? This is the question we all need to consider for ourselves.

Prayer: God of the present, you have called us a chosen people, a royal priesthood, so that we may declare your praise. Give our lungs the breath of life to proclaim your Good News. Give our bodies the energy of your divine favor to work for your kingdom come, you will be done. By your grace we pray. Amen.

Author: Ben Brannan

[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].

 

Tuesday April 21 2020

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Scripture: Psalm 66

Key verse: (5) “Come and see what God has done.”

Reflection: We can only imagine the joyful noise the disciples made when they realized that Jesus was resurrected.  The trauma of watching him die had left them in a state of shock.  For three days they had huddled together in fear of what would happen next.  Rome could be relentless and they wondered when they would be dragged out of their hiding place and crucified themselves for following Jesus.  It’s hard to imagine, as we freely participate in and celebrate our faith, the kind of fear the disciples experienced.  It’s hard to imagine their despair as they grieved the death of Jesus.  But, because of God’s great power, nothing could keep Jesus in the grave and stop God’s love.  Over time they would more fully understand this as they continued ministry in his name.

Today’s scripture reminds me that God does miraculous things.  This psalm exclaims – “come and see what God has done!”  For Israel, it was the miraculous freedom from slavery and the hope of a new life.  For us, it is a reminder of the steadfast love of God that we can see all around us if we look carefully, even in the face of a pandemic. We worship and follow a living God who continues to work in the world whether we are under a stay at home order or not. In this Easter season, may we all make a joyful noise unto the Lord for all that God has done in the past, giving thanks that this same God will continue to be with us and will go ahead of us out into the world in ways we can’t even see yet.  We don’t know what the future will bring, but no matter our future, God is with us.

Prayer: Loving God, we praise you for your love and care.  Even when we are tested by life and we feel as if we are falling into the unknown, you are here.  We are grateful that when we carry heavy burdens like fear and anxiety you will lead us to places of rest.  Give us patience and give us hope as we wait.  Remind us that we are resurrection people and nothing can stop your love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Author: Deborah Conner

[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].

Monday April 20 2020

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Scripture: John 14:1-17

Key verse: (8) Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”

Reflection: Most human beings long for certainty. We want things to be predictable. We want to KNOW. In anxious times, when we face suffering, we want clarity about what to expect. Doubts and questions make us uncomfortable. In our current time, we want an authoritative voice to give us certainty (a politician? Dr. Fauci? A preacher?) about how to protect ourselves, what to expect, and when this will finally be over.

In today’s passage from John, Jesus was with his disciples at his last supper, preparing them for his departure. He offers words of comfort and reassurance but he offers no certainties. He doesn’t give them specifics about what will happen. He doesn’t give them dates and times to post on their calendars, with reminders to ring on their phones.

Philip speaks up to ask “show us the Father.” It’s as if Philip wants to see a photo, a clear image of God, that will prove something to him. Perhaps he wants some final proof about Jesus’ identity. Perhaps he wants some absolute assurance that the frightening events ahead are part of God’s plan. Perhaps he hopes to remove any last doubts or questions from his mind.

Jesus refuses to show the Father as Philip asked, because he has been showing the Father to them all along the way. Everything Jesus has done has revealed the presence of God to them. Everything Jesus has said has taught them God’s will. Yet, Philip wanted a certainty that he wouldn’t get. Jesus seemed to say “keep your eyes on me and you will see what you need.” Faith will never be about certainty.  Faith is trusting God enough to follow Jesus even with our doubts and questions. Whether we face personal struggle or global pandemic, we look to Jesus as the way, the truth and the life for us.

Prayer: Dear Lord, sometimes I wonder where you are and what you are doing. Open my eyes to see you at work in the world around me. Give me an assurance that you are with me no matter what I face. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Author: Millie Snyder

[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].