Weekly Devotional

Week of Monday, January 11, 2020

Opening Prayer (from Occasional, BCP 2019)

Holy Spirit, breath of God and fire of love, I cannot pray without your aid: Kindle in me the fire of your love, and illumine me with your light; that with a steadfast will and holy thoughts I may approach the Father in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ my Lord, who reigns with you and the Father in eternal union. Amen.

Bible Reading – Romans 12:9-21

9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (ESV)

Devotional – The World to Christ We Bring

I attended an Episcopal elementary school growing up. Part of our weekly routine was to attend chapel services together as a school. I cannot remember anything taught during those services, but much of the music we sang still sticks in my heart and in my mind. One of the hymns that I still remember fondly (and we still sing it occasionally at Church of Our Savior) is “Christ for the World we Sing.” There is nothing particularly profound about this old hymn, but the Lord has used it in my life as a reminder of what my life as a Christian is to be about. For those who may not be familiar with it here are the words;

Christ for the world we sing,
the world to Christ we bring,
with loving zeal;
the poor, and them that mourn,
the faint and overborne,
sinsick and sorrow-worn,
whom Christ doth heal.

Christ for the world we sing,
the world to Christ we bring,
with fervent prayer;
the wayward and the lost,
by restless passions tossed,
redeemed at countless cost,
from dark despair.

Christ for the world we sing,
the world to Christ we bring,
with one accord;
with us the work to share,
with us reproach to dare,
with us the cross to bear,
for Christ our Lord.

Christ for the world we sing,
the world to Christ we bring,
with joyful song;
the newborn souls, whose days,
reclaimed from error’s ways,
inspired with hope and praise,
to Christ belong.

As I continue to reflect on the events of last week in our Nation’s Capital, the overwhelming feeling and conviction is “what can I do?” What can I do? What can we do as followers of Jesus Christ to help bring healing to the divisions of hatred and distrust in our country? What can we do to promote peace and justice? As I have thought about it, this hymn keeps ringing in my ears. What our country needs most of all is for us to bring our friends and neighbors to the Prince of Peace Himself. I can think of no other way to bring about change and renewal in our country than to recommit our lives to sharing the hope and joy that we have in Christ. He is our only hope.

Well, how exactly can we do that? There are lots of ways, but for starters we can begin to pray and ask the Lord to make Paul’s words in Romans 12 a reality in our lives. Paul was writing to Christians who were living in a very tumultuous time in history. They were facing struggles in every direction. They knew the corruption of the world around them. In the midst of it all Paul gives them the basics for how we as Christians can help bring others to Him. As followers of Christ, we are a reflection of Him in this world. Through us others will come to know his love, His goodness, His joy, His hope, His patience, His faithfulness, His graciousness, His compassion, His humility and His peace.

This does not mean we are perfect or ever can be perfect. We all fail in these areas, but God’s grace is sufficient for all of us. The world does not need to see perfect Christians, but rather imperfect followers of Jesus Christ who humbly confess their failures and continue in the gracious forgiveness of our Savior.

Let us begin today living out the grace that we have received and give the world what it really needs more than anything else right now.

Closing Prayer (from Occasional Prayers, BCP 2019)

Grant, Almighty God, that the words we have heard this day with our ears may by your grace be grafted in our hearts, that they may bring forth in us the fruit of a righteous life, to the honor and praise of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.