Devotion and Readings April 3

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Bible Readings and Devotion for April 3, 2020

 

Here are the references for the readings.  Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible:

 

Matthew 23:23-39

1 Corinthians 9:19-27

Psalms 78:41-73, 80

Lamentations 1

 

Devotion for April 3, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

 

I ran cross country in high school.  We often had well over 100 runners in a race of three miles. I was not a star runner, nor did I ever win a race.  Typically, I ended up somewhere in the broad middle of the pack of runners.  Only one person would win, and only 10 would be given a numbered place among the many who ran.  Even so, I did my best in the race, and I always finished my run.  Some would quit if they saw that they would not even be in the top half of runners.  I always felt that if I were to start the race, then I would do my best and finish it.  (Never did I experience an injury, for that would have altered my plan.)

In the reading from 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, Paul writes, “24 Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. 25 Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one.”

In life we are living our faith for the long haul.  What we do in response to Jesus is not just for the moment nor the hour nor the day nor the week.  What we do as followers of Jesus is both one day at a time and for a lifelong reality.

The COVID19 pandemic colors everything we do in life right now. For the benefit of all we have made all sorts of changes.  We rarely, if ever, leave our homes.  Worship and learning are happening in very different ways than we have done any time in our lives.  People are practicing “social distancing,” and sometimes not even looking each other in the eye.

These changes are not forever, but these are going to last longer than any of us would like them to last.  That is where Paul’s encouragement in our reading comes into play.  As our faith is a long-term reality, so is our perspective on the current pandemic crisis.  There will be an end to this at some point.  Life will be both different and the same.  We don’t know all that will be in either category.

In our faith lives we look forward to a time when we will safely gather for worship, Word, and Sacrament.  We long for our times of fellowship and learning.  We joyfully anticipate our opportunities for serving our neighbors face to face.  These are faithful expressions of our faith in Jesus Christ.

Throughout the days, weeks, months, and years ahead as we deal with these changes, there is always something, rather, someone, who never changes.  By faith and God’s Word we know that, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) Yesterday, before there was ever the COVID19 disease in our lives, Jesus was there to guide us, to forgive us our sins, to comfort us, to encourage us, and to give us hope.  Today, as we huddle in our homes, avoid others, wash our hands over and over, and practice social distancing, Jesus is here to guide us, to forgive us our sins, to comfort us, to encourage us, and to give us hope.  As we move into the future, some of which is very unclear, rest assured that Jesus will be there to guide us, to forgive us our sins, to comfort us, to encourage us, and to give us hope.

Because Jesus is always there, we are given strength and encouragement to stay the course of our calling to be his followers. We know what Jesus has done for us through his suffering at human hands, his death on the cross, and resurrection from the dead.  We know that our Lord is with us through this journey of life, every step of the race.  We know that, by God’s abundant grace, we will be with Jesus face to face forever.  Together, may we all continue our race to the end, relying on God’s goodness, and doing our best to love God, love our neighbors, love one another, and to tell the world of his merciful goodness.

Here is a video of a song by one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Leslie Phillips.  It is called “You’re the Same”.  Click this link to watch a video which plays this song.

 

 

Prayer

Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit:  you lead the way in the race set before us.  Guide us through the trials and struggles of this time, and give us hope for our life together in the months to come.  We pray this in Jesus’ holy name.  Amen.

 

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