Friday, May 31, 2013

Redeemer Devotions for May 31, 2013

This week: God as fire. If you have any comments - []Does the flame of Pentecost push us or pull us? Often, people run from fire. They

see the fire 'over there' and they run in the other direction. In some cases, they

run away from everything in their lives that may be lost - burned up - never to

be seen again. I think God as fire is like that sometimes. Pushing us out and away

from everything that is consuming our lives so that our lives are not truly full

of the wideness of God Reign. Then again, those flames pull us out of ourselves

to see what is burning - what is hot - what is the power - where is it going. God

as fire ignites within us a desire to run to the flames. This God brings out the

best in us. Knowing how fire can destroy - we are drawn to the fire to repair and

to heal and to help others see the sweetness of new life that comes when we are

grasped by the reality that our God does not need what we have or what we have accomplished

or what we can claim to be. God is always trying to help us unveil that sweet love

that abides with all of us and will continue to bring about new life for all.

O God of love and new life, push us - pull us, please. Come, simply come and take

us into your embrace and ignite new life among us. Amen.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Redeemer Devotions for May 30, 2013

This week: God as fire. If you have any comments - []How many crispy coatings can you make from one marshmallow? Let the outside brown

or burn - peel it off - do it again - do it again - until that soft center is just

too small to use another time. Yes we get burned in our lives. In many and various

ways we get burned-up, burned-out, set on fire, even totally consumed - at least

we think. But there is always some little bit of sweetness left. God as fire always

sees the sweetness that is at our center. That is the beloved one - that is me and

that is you. No matter what has happened or how we have had to face the fires of

our lives our God as fire always sees something left - something worthy - something

delightful. I would have to agree with Pope Francis - even sweetness in the atheist!

Yes. I find that something to grasp and never let go. Through all the fire that

I think does me in or makes me turn away and run or simply drip off the stick into

nothing - there is our God as fire who has a love for sweets - that is you my friends

and me. Our core never changes - it is what our God always sees - and always will.

This is the truth that goes beyond our bias knowing - our preferences - our idolatry

- all that stuff that can be burned off to expose the beauty of God's beloved children

- all of us.

O God of love and new life, I am so thankful that you see in the midst of the burning

stuff around me and the goo within me - a beloved child. Amen.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Redeemer Devotions for May 28, 2013

This week: God as fire. If you have any comments - []Fire can hurt. When I'm lighting a candle at home and I have to hold the match as

I long as can because I don't want to waste another match - I want to be in control

- I want to be successful - I just want to do it, I often hold onto to what I want

just a moment too long. Ouch! God as fire is not out to burn us. God as fire is

handing us the power to turn and face a new life. Let go! God will supply another

match - things do not have to go as we want them to go. God as fire does not hurt

- our holding on too long is what hurts. We do it to ourselves. God as fire keeps

beckoning us to come and follow and live a new life but as long as we hold on to

the way we think is best, we may find that things get all burned up and we are

left with nothing. That, though, is not true. For when it appears as though all

things are burned up - God begins to help us see what is now about to come to life.

Before the fire, we may have been so involved in holding on to what is and what

we want - we are not able to see the fresh and vibrant life that comes after some

things have been burned off.

O God of love and new life, by the power of your Spirit of new life set us on fire

and let your glory shine among us like a lamp that brings your love to light in

the world. Amen.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Redeemer Devotions for May 28, 2013

This week: God as fire. If you have any comments - []Fire will burn things up. Some things need to be burned up. Something find new life

after they have been burned up. God as fire is always creative. Even when we think

that fire takes away what is, we must wait sometimes - wait and see what remains

or what has been created when fire sweeps through. Most of us have been warned

at least once - to stay away from the fire - we will get burned - hurt - scarred,

etc. That' quite true. And yet, those are not all bad things when we are talking

about God as fire. This fire may just burn up the excess - the heavy loads we carry.

Those folks who traveled into the wilderness were told to get out and get out quickly.

The 'stuff' they carried out didn't last long. In fact they burned it up themselves

in order to make a golden image they could worship. God as fire burns up all that

'stuff' that cannot bring life and cannot sustain us. God as fire is not a 'hell-fire

and damnation' message. It is a fire that brings life and makes it more full than

we could ever imagine. Think about a forest that burns down - in years - it thrives

like never before. And yet, when we see the fire coming we can only see destruction

and not new life.

O God of love and new life, ignite a love among us that will burn away the temptation

to become cold-hearted and distant and trusting in what we have rather than who

love and holds us without end. Amen.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Redeemer Devotions for May 24, 2013

This week: God as welcome. If you have any comments - []God as welcome means there will be risk if we follow in God's way. To welcome -

make someone a part of our lives - invite them into our community - treat them as

though they are one of us, is risky. When we follow the way of our God as welcome,

it means we will need to step out of our comfort zone. That's a risk because we

all tend to built a world that we like to keep 'just as it is.' It is also a risk

because we cannot control the world when the door is open and we say 'welcome y'all'.

God as welcome demands that we take time in the midst of everyday to remember our

baptism - or to simply remind ourselves of God's love that knows no end. This may

be a small prayerful moment. At the same time, in that prayerfulness, we are promised

that the Spirit of God is already pulling us into the realm of God as welcome. Before

we hold out our lives as a living welcome, the ground for that welcome must be at

hand. That simply means we are already welcomed into God's Reigning embrace and

now we extend that welcome to others. Yes, it may begin with a few words, but in

time a welcome grows into relationships and relationships are where the world is

transformed. Transformation is always a risk.

O God of love and new life, lead us into the risky business of your Reign. Yes,

we may hesitate - but we expect your Spirit to move us along your way. Amen.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Redeemer Devotions for May 23, 2013

This week: God as welcome. If you have any comments - []When a door is open, we can go out that door and engage the world or we can stay

inside and greet those who come in. That is our life when we follow God as welcome.

The door never shuts - never. It is like forgiveness - it is never-ending - it begins

again just when we thought 'enough with the forgiveness already.' God as welcome

puts into a place in which we are exposed to whatever may come. Yikes. We must

remember that this God as welcome is also the God when we were the 'whatever-may-come'

and we were greeted and embraced. God as welcome comes like water splashing in the

font - water thrown around a room of saints (sometime welcome - sometime not) -

water poured over us with words of promise that will be the way we are reminded

that in and through all times, we are welcome - no, we are now a part of the welcome

that will make the world new. God as welcome opens up a can of worms.

O God of love and new life, open up our hearts so we may be moved by your Spirit

and begin to find delight when the doors of our life are open to others. Amen.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Redeemer Devotions for May 21, 2013

This week: God as welcome. If you have any comments - []We don't welcome everyone. If we are honest - we just don't. That is one of the

many reasons we are sent to the Scriptures. There we read stories of God as welcome

- Jesus making a fool of himself - the eunuch attached to the community - the lost

coin found - the wounded healed and made a part of the whole again. God as welcome

is the God who inspires us to do something more than talk. We are invited to turn

the 'we welcome all' into a reality that refreshes folks who may not be welcomed

very often - but long for a place and a people that will treat them as ones who

are welcome. God as welcome is always stretching those of us who attempt to listen

to the story of God in the flesh and really long for that life to be ours. God as

welcome is the power that will turn our heads to see the stranger in the middle

of worship or at an event and then pull us to greet the stranger so that s/he will

have a real place among us. Isn't it strange that the followers of Jesus - when

we gather for worship - have a way of leaving the strangers to fend for themselves

or stand alone or walk out of the building without a simple yet blessed 'welcome'?

O God of love and new life, as you bring us home to life with you, remind us to

bring along our neighbor and maybe a stranger who has recently been touch by our

welcome. Amen.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Redeemer Devotions for May 20, 2013

This week: God as welcome. If you have any comments - []At a preaching conference last week, Walter Brueggemann said, "Welcome vetoes speech."

God as welcome is that parent who does not need to say anything to his child who

has been away from home - pretty much considering his father dead. The child is

a loser - trying to make the world his own - so turned-in-on-self that all things

are lost in that far away place. So the child goes home expecting to make a planned

speech that may do him some good. But the speech cannot be completed - no planned

rise out of the dumps is able to occur as the child had envisioned. Instead there

is welcome - a overwhelming welcome - and "I'll do anything for you dear, anything"

welcome. God as welcome acts boldly and without any pulling or persuasion. God as

welcome is able to restore worth and heal all that has been broken. This welcome

is meant to be the face of the church for all and any who gather up the courage

to come and worship or come and take part in any aspect of the life of a congregation.

God as welcome is a people who make fools of themselves to welcome home the stranger.

Not to 'get them' to join. Rather, to give them the homecoming - the welcome - that

all God's children need after we have been beaten up by the world and when we have

take part in beating up others. God as welcome vetoes speech. Therefore we become

the welcome that is too often left to words and never becomes life.

O God of love and new life, we are reborn when we are brought close into the embrace

of your love. Blessed are you for acting and grabbing hold of us when we are longing

for a place to call home. Amen.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Redeemer Devotions for May 17, 2013

This week: God as a new born. If you have any comments - []God as a new born is our God who longs to be embraced and held close. God as new

born is like a promise that is brought to life and yet we cannot see how full the

promise will be. Therefore we are invited to treasure the promise - not by keeping

to ourselves -like hidden treasure - but more as treasure that is freely given and

treasure we long to share. God as a new born frightens us with the vulnerability

that is displayed and yet it encourages us with the life that is yet to unfold.

We are handed that which is not yet full and complete. We are handed that which

must become relational in order to gain a more full encounter with the life God

as a new born puts before us. It is not always easy to take a new born into our

arms. Sometimes there is that feeling or thought that we might break it. But God

as a new born invites us - pleads with us - to reach out and take hold of the responsibilities

and gifts that come with being a part of the unfolding character of our God in the

midst of us.

O God of love and new life, open our arms to the world so that our arms will always

be open to you as you are born into the life around us. Amen.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Redeemer Devotions for May 16, 2013

This week: God as a new born. If you have any comments - []I remember when my daughter was born. One of the first things I did was exactly

what a nurse said I would do. I reached out with one finger and touched her face

- her head - her neck. It was like I was drawn into the newness of that life and

I knew how fragile it is and also how much we need to be touched by one another.

God as a new born is that desire to touch with hands and lives and voices and emotions

- those who are so vulnerable. It is then that we will be pulled into contact with

all others. God as a new born is the power that overcomes any distance between us.

Last week when I held that baby I noticed how I kept touching and stroking the top

of her head. Even when we had a prayer, I laid my hand gently on her head and continued

to lightly stroke her head during the prayer. I find that same kind of energy when

we move through the healing rite in worship each month. The two hands laid upon

a person head - the two hand placed on the upper back by another. We are drawn into

each others space to heal and comfort and hold. The distance is meant to be eliminated

then - and always. God as a new born is full of an invitation to heal and bring


O God of love and new life, remind us to be a witness to the sweetness of your Reign

that is revealed in those around us. Amen.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Redeemer Devotions for May 15, 2013

This week: God as a new born. If you have any comments - []There are so many changes that will take place. Imagine looking around at others

you encounter during the day and seeing a new born. The round faces with skin as

soft as a (get this) baby's butt, become the faces that we usually see. The faces

of angles and varied complexions and hair and weathered skin. Those same faces of

a new born become - over the years - one of 'them' and often people we at whom we

point or about whom we whisper. God as a new born calls on us to see others unrealistically.

But as we age, we begin to see differences and make judgments and learn to turn

our backs and refuse to touch and hold. Think about all the weight we add to our

lives just by how we see others and with that see ourselves in relation to them.

I am always amazed at how much judgment and prejudice and fear and condemnation

exists in the life of a child in confirmation (7th and 8th grades). Sometimes I

can see that these children have had quite a bit of stuff dumped on them. That dumping

of 'grown-up' biases and prejudices takes hold quickly and they are hard to dismantle.

God as a new born is the power we are given to help one another be relieved of all

the weight put upon us. We are invited to take on one primary identity - beloved

of God. This is when we hold and guard and give ourselves away for the sake of

the other - rather than push the other away. This is not a heavy load.

O God of love and new life, remind us of how life can be so fragile and we are all

shaped by your Spirit to honor the weak and offer ourselves as kind and gentle hands

that will protect and serve other - endlessly. Amen.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Redeemer Devotions for May 14, 2013

This week: God as a new born. If you have any comments - []God as a new born is an invitation to reach out and touch one another as a gentle

and caring power. Holding a new born is like holding the future -seeing the future

face-to-face but still not knowing where it will go - where it will take us - how

it will be transformed. In the present, we have a new born - like a new day. It

if fresh and open to life as never before experience. God as a new born invites

us to dream and imagine what will be. This is not an imagination that seeks to control

what will be - it is an imagination filled with freedom to become a child of God

each and every day. Within that freedom to become me and for you to become you

- comes the invitation to become a part of a community. God as a new born is life

that comes into being within the arms of others who are beloved of God. Those arms

are meant to shape the new born into the fullness of God's image. That is a community

endeavor. Just as we love to pass a new born from one person to the next so that

everyone can go 'ahhh', the beloved of God are given the task of wrapping the new

born up with a love that will become that same love - unconditional, eternal, deep

and wide.

O God of love and new life, come and hold us and then send us and then open our

hearts to the wonder of new life that awaits the fullness of our participation.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Redeemer Devotions for May 13, 2013

This week: God as a new born. If you have any comments - []Last week I had the opportunity to hold Kathryn Margert during her first day of

life. God as a new life is vulnerability. It is the unfolding story of people whose

lives must be held in the hands of others and whose lives also become the hands

that will hold others. No one fears what a new born will do next - although a poopy

diaper is a bit of a surprise. God as a new born draws us close to one another so

that we will be able to see the child in one another - the new born - the helpless

- the one waiting to be held and comforted and honored. This is all easy to do when

we hold a new born. This child needs us in order to make it through another day.

Imagine caring for the world around us as though we were facing a new born. There

is a good chance that we would look differently at our world. We would also look

differently in regard to how we would interact with the world. Maybe we would be

pulled into a gentleness that promises to do no harm. Who would harm a new born?

Well, who would harm the people you will encounter today? God as a new born insists

on people caring for others - even when the day may be filled with nothing more

than a bunch of poopy diapers.

O God of love and new life, gift us with the ability to see the new born in those

around us so that even our enemies will be re-viewed within the gentleness of your

Reign. Amen.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Redeemer Devotions for May 9, 2013

This week: God as lively. If you have any comments - []God as lively rises from the dead. God as lively is that part of the story when

we are leaning forward to see and hear if anything else will happen - if life will

go on - if the person in the story will make it out. God as lively is the and then

that opens up the story and leads us on another adventure. Our God if forever opening

up the day to help us see or imagine what might be next or around the corner or

present with us even when we are feeling utterly alone. I know that I do not always

hear that 'and then' right away. Sometimes I am too stuck in what is and what can

be seen and that which I am feeling. Once again, it takes some breathing - some

time when the creativity of the Holy Spirit is able to expand my life vision. It

is odd how that works. There are times when I am able to acknowledge the 'and then'

while I am facing the moment of death or despair or disappointment or fear. Other

times it takes me a moment - an hour - the rest of the day, 'and then' possibilities

begin to set me free. There are also times when weeks pass - maybe years - too,

too long of a time, 'but then' God as lively helps me breathe in the freshness of

grace that has a way of opening my heart.

O God of love and new life, make us a patient people as we attempt to walk within

this day knowing that your grace will bring the action of creation right into the

middle of every moment and then....again. Amen.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Redeemer Devotions for May 9, 2013

This week: God as lively. If you have any comments - []God as lively is the power that flips the switch. That switch is the 'on' switch.

It is the one that greets me where I am and turns on the light. The light is the

life of the Reign of God that enables me to see the world around me with new eyes.

It is often with those eyes - given light and sight by Go as lively - I come to

take note of the world that is outside the world as I am trying to make it for myself.

It is the world that is constantly being renewed and recreated by a God so lively

we really do need to be pulled along. It is too easy to stay back in the world as

I know it and want it. And yet, as the hymn goes: Here comes Jesus, see him walking

on the water. That is God as lively taking us out of the boat of comfort and safety

as we like it and bidding us to dance in places we usually would never consider

possible. I want to dance on water - I want to reach beyond my world and investigate

you world and the next. I also know that I can be such a coward - so turned-in-on-myself

- that I do not 'go for it.' God as lively flips the switch not just to see what

seems out of my ballpark - but to also step forward and start being a part of a

new game.

O God of love and new life, call us out onto the water today. Remind us that there

will be life outside the boat and it will be life eternally new. Amen.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Redeemer Devotions for May 8, 2013

This week: God as lively. If you have any comments - []When I think of God as lively, I wonder if I will be able to follow along that way.

God as lively will never allow for a world of us and them. Such a world is contrary

to this God who will always reach across the line and sit with the other side and

eat at the same table and walk alongside so no one will be out there alone as an

easy target. God as lively engages 'them' just as I hope God engages 'us.' That

is the making of a whole new world. That is the making of a peaceable Reign. That

brings about the end of scapegoats and demonizing. God as lively is the power that

pulls all of us across the line that we were told never to cross. I don't know if

I can always follow along that way and cross over those lines. It is in those moments

that I must remember that God as lively has a lively Spirit that will assist us

- convince us - grab us and pull a bit. I need that Spirit to enliven my life quite

a bit of the time.

O God of love and new life, once again amaze us with your loving presence and disturb

us with your gracious love that is meant to be a part of the very fiber of our live

this day. Amen.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Redeemer Devotions for May 7, 2013

This week: God as lively. If you have any comments - []God as lively brings the expectation that at any time and in any place we may experience

the invitation to be a part of this lively life. God as lively pulls us into a existence

in which we become a people who do not sit back and watch. We enter in - we question

- we doubt - we wholeheartedly jump in - we argue - we call for clarification -

we add our 2 cents - we respectfully become a part of the whole. God as lively is

the God who hangs from the cross to let us know that God will hang around with us

no matter what may come of this day. It is often that willingness to hang around

that gets folks killed, martyred, betrayed and accused falsely. That must be why

it is so easy to pull back and not be engaged with others. There is always a risk

that stuff will happen. God as lively - lets it all happen - grace knows no 'approved'

or 'acceptable' manner of going forward with truthfulness and hopefulness and mercy

- and all that good stuff. God goes for it and enlivens our lives with new ways

to be a part of the fullness of our blessed humanity.

O God of love and new life, bring us into a foot-stomping, hand-clapping, and saint-celebrating

day and let the world have a look at real presence - up close. Amen.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Redeemer Devotions for May 6, 2013

This week: God as lively. If you have any comments - []Quoting someone in the sermon yesterday I said that 'sanctification means being

lively'. When I first read that, I smiled. Yes! I then thought that this is our

God - lively - animated. How could God be anything else? This is the God who enters

into all that God's people must endure. God as lively bring life - a fullness of

life even when there appears to be little life left in the room. God as lively

is like someone who jumps down from a tree right in front of someone on a walk in

the woods. Bam - wham - interruption. There may be a moment of fear - that's why

angels in Scripture keep telling folks 'do not be afraid' - but this doesn't last.

God as lively quickly engulfs us in something more that is possible in the midst

of what is. Lively already notes that God is moving active a verb that moves through

our lives making us a lively people.

O God of love and new life, move us again, O God. Amen.


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Friday, May 3, 2013

Redeemer Devotions for May 3, 2013

This week: God as unfolding story. If you have any comments - []When I am afraid or anxious about what might unfold before me, I'm not much of person.

I can be creative - but my creativity has a controlled edge to it. That is, control

what is unfolding and make it fit into my plans. God as unfolding story gives us

everything at the beginning: You are beloved. There is my present and there is

what will be. The story of my life that is to unfold is to be within the realm of

that truth. God as unfolding story does not mean that there will be times when the

world gets turned upside down or it appears as though I am at the end of the road

or the day is about to explode. Rather, God as unfolding story gives me the pick

up line to enter full steam ahead as though I am truly beloved and that will be

enough to sustain me and comfort me even if I am in what appears to be a stone

cold tomb. I have days and weeks when I need to remember that. It is still to easy

to be so stuck in my story line that I do not rest in God's unfolding story - drives

me nuts.

O God of love and new life, help me to ride within this day on the wave of your

story unfolding in and through all things. Amen.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Redeemer Devotions for May 2, 2013

This week: God as unfolding story. If you have any comments - []Some days it is too difficult to see any other story but the one in which I want

to be. On those days, I expect the world to go my way. Truth is - my way is a world

of its own. I am the center and all things must somehow fit into the story I am

trying to create. Then again, on some days my world as I want it runs into walls

or trips over any number of things that can cause my world to be crushed or simply

damaged. God as unfolding story includes me in the unfolding. Therefore, my world

will keep running into the gift of life that our God constantly makes available.

Folded into the life I want are surprises that will unfold in front of me. Most

often, I'm too involved in my story to see or hear them. But our God as unfolding

story keeps putting into the unfolding of the day - opportunities to hear and see

this story of mercy and hopefulness and unbounded love that is always folded right

into the fabric of all the good and bad days of life. God as unfolding story is

as close as the turning of a head or the voice of another or a sound or silence

that helps disrupt our way and take note of how else we could be living.

O God of love and new life, this day unfolds and we step into that which we do not

know the ending, keep us mindful of how your love is sown into the very fabric of

life around us and we have been gifted by the Holy Spirit to catch a glimpse of

it and begin to unravel more of your bountiful life and enter it wholeheartedly.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Redeemer Devotions for May 1, 2013

This week: God as unfolding story. If you have any comments - []God as unfolding story sometimes means things may be coming apart. Lives that are

coming apart are lives in which God's Spirit takes hold of us and begins to unravel

that which we so often consider our sacred cows. The unraveling makes us look at

the stuff that makes up our lives - and look more closely at all the elements.

God as unfolding story makes us dig down deep into the way we are shaped as God's

people from the heart out. The stories of our God help us to look at our own lives

and face the many layers of fool's gold that have been caked around our lives. This

kind of unfolding is to open us up so that we are not afraid to experience the pulling

of God's Spirit that longs to take our hearts and transform us. As our life stories

unfold, we will be exposed to more than what is seen when we are so neatly packaged

as we want the world to view us. That packaging often becomes the way we see and

value our own lives. And yet, God as unfolding story presses us to see more than

just the stuff we want to see and to trust more than the few stories we think we

need to keep us just as we are.

O God of love and new life, it is when our lives are unraveling that we so often

need a story to remind us of the power for life that is available to us and able

to define and be refitted with new threads of life - for this we give you thanks,

O God. Amen.