Friday, August 28, 2009

Bethany Devotion I

My first morning devotion at my CPE in Bethany Village--this is recorded live and broadcasted throughout the facilities on Bethany's local channel. It was kind of inspired by a sermon Dr. Marty Stevens shared with students when she guest lectured in the Homiletics class. It is meant to be a light, brief invitation to think. Keep in mind, I wrote this how I speak, not how I write :-P

A reading from 1st Corinthians, chapter 13, verse 12.

12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; but then we shall see face to face. Now I know only in part; but then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

I used to love hide and seek when I was a little kid. On warm summer evenings, when the sun was still bright but the air already beginning to cool, fireflies glowing like tangible stars, I would get permission from my parents to play hide-and-seek with some of the neighborhood children. I loved the frantic chase, looking for a place to hide, perhaps here behind the tool shed, or over there! Behind the neighbor’s porch. Perhaps I found a spot behind some bushes. I would hear the person who was “It” call out “Ready or not, here I come!” At first, all goes well. I am proud of my accomplishment—seconds go by, and I’m not found. After all, I found a really good hiding place. And then, minutes go by. And I begin to worry. What if I’m not found? What if the person who is “It” finds all the other girls and boys and then, when he can’t find me, gives up and goes home? What if I’m stuck, hiding here, alone, as the sun slowly sinks down and colors fade into night.

Or, maybe I’m “It,” standing alone in the back yard as the other children all run off. My eyes are closed and as I’m counting up to fifty I hear the rustling around, the giggles as people rush to find a spot to hide. And then, at around the number thirty-five, I don’t hear anybody anymore. The giggling stopped, only the sound of buzzing cicadas. I begin to worry—what if all the neighborhood kids decided to play a cruel trick? What if they all decided to go home, and when I open my eyes and start looking around, I’m looking in vain, behind bushes and under porches for someone who isn’t there at all?

You know, I think sometimes we can play hide and seek with God. Something happens in our lives, perhaps: a death of a loved one, illness, pain. And sometimes after that you wonder “Where are you, God?” Is God hiding in the bushes, or are we looking in vain? Or sometimes, we’re waiting in the bushes—we’re waiting for God to answer a prayer, perhaps, or we’re waiting to be pulled back up onto our feet again after we hit a stumbling block on our journey.

In the book of Isaiah, the prophet calls out “Where are you God? If only you were here, then everything would be better! The people would stop treating each other badly, the land would grow! Come down out of the skies like you did for Moses!” Isaiah is playing hide and seek with God, looking for God, hoping and praying that God will answer his prayers.

But do you know what I think? I think Isaiah is looking in the wrong place! And sometimes, we look for God in the wrong places, too. For instance, I have yet to see a burning bush that talks. You see, God is in the small things. God promised to us that when we are sick, grieving, or in pain, God promised that God would be present in our lives. God might not be showing up in roaring pillars of fire, but God is in our laughter, God is in our tears. God is in this place, in every breath. The Holy Spirit is working, here, now, in your hearts. God is in every moment we share with one another. So, I ask you today to keep your hearts open. Where will you find God today at work in your life?

Let us pray together the words our savior taught us: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever, amen.

O God, you have called us your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


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