God's Dwelling Place

July 22, 2014

God’s Dwelling Place ~ Donna Schaper

For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my god than live in the tents of wickedness.”  From Psalm 84

                Living in the courts of the Holy is a great understanding of an ordinary day. We go in, we go out. Doors mark our time. We are not stuck anywhere. We are people on the move, from one holiness and one strength to another. We go from strength to strength.

                Unfortunately we are habituated to living our courtless lives. We find ourselves spending tie in the tents of wickedness, whether we want to or not. We imagine that our 401K’s ups and downs define our security. They do not. We imagine that having health insurance is the key to having health. It is not. We imagine that very little can be done to stop crime or properly reform criminals. Indeed, when we stand at the gate of the holy, we are filled with ideas for forgiveness, reparation, renewal of those, including us, who have “gone wrong.” There is nothing permanent about the tents of the wickedness for us or for criminals. What is permanent is the court of the holy. We can spend every day there.

                When we imagine our lives as doorkeepers to the courts of the holy, we let go of what we think is the norm on behalf of a new normal. We live a different way, as people who “wake up and smell the possibility,” in the great works of Alice Walker.

PRAYER: Spirit of the Living God, tell us what it is that keeps us from being good doorkeepers. Give us detail. And then send us to the gates and let us move in and out of holiness with joy and gratitude. Amen.

Taken from the United Church of Christ devotional, God Is Still Speaking: 365 Daily Devotionals, ed. Christina Villa (Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 2013), 217.

Sibs

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January 19

Sibs ~~ Quinn G. Caldwell

So his brothers were jealous of him… From Genesis 37:1 – 28.

The story of Joseph and his brothers reads like a textbook on birth order dynamics. There is Joseph, he of the famous coat, who’s effectively, though not literally, the youngest. He spends all day coming up with ways to annoy his older brothers, from tattling on them to having dreams in which he finally becomes the boss of the mall.

There are the middle brothers, always misbehaving and beating up on the youngest one – or selling them into slavery.

There's Reuben, the oldest and the responsible one, who calms the middle-child hellions down, tries to protect the baby, and is forever freaking out about what dad's going to say.

It will take a prison, a famine, a scheming minx, dreams, psychic powers, Pharaoh, and God to get his family back together. And you thought your family was screwed up.

God cares as much about your family is Joseph's. Got a sibling rivalry that's gone on long enough? A wound that's not going to heal till somebody says something important, like "I'm sorry" or "I forgive you"? Does somebody need to break out of his or her birth order? Perhaps today is the day to pray for God to intervene.

PRAYER: God, thank you for promising not to let separation and discord be the end of her family to love. And thank you that the youngest children always grow up to be more awesome than their to mean older sisters, which just serves them right for always calling her little brother names and never letting him play with her Barbies. Amen.

Daily Meditation - I Can't Forgive Myself

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January 1

"I can't forgive myself." ~~ Martin B. Copenhaver

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered. Psalm 130:3-4

I often hear people say something along these lines: "I am finding it hard to forgive myself." Hard? How about impossible? As someone once put it, we can no more forgive ourselves than we can sit in our own laps. What we can do is receive the forgiveness of another. Forgiveness is not an achievement. It is always a gift. And that is part of what brings us to worship each week -- to receive the gift of God's forgiveness.

Someone I know left the church early in his adolescence, but difficult circumstances in his life prompted him to go back to worship -- just to check it out, mind you. He wasn't about to get carried away. He was wiling to make a small tentative step, however. He sat in the back pew, so he could observe. But when they came to the prayer of confession and he heard everyone say together, "We have done those things which we ought not to have done and we have left undone those things which we ought to have done," he smiled and said to himself, "Sounds just like my kind of crowd. I came to the right place."

PRAYER: Dear God, forgive me, because, try as I might, I am not able to forgive myself. Help me to receive forgiveness as the gift it is. Amen.

 

God Is Still Speaking: 365 Daily Devotionals, ed. Christina Villa (Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 2013), 2.