I find comfort and strength in the reminder that Jesus “offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death and was heard because of his reverent submission” (Hebrews 5:7, TNIV). Sometimes I assume that Jesus was somehow removed from the need to connect in prayer. This is not a helpful assumption. In the passage from the GPS today and in many passages in the gospels, we read that Jesus spent a great deal of time in prayer.
If Jesus spent time in prayer, I should too.
I am seeking to be a person who models my life after Jesus – a disciple, a follower, a deeply committed Christian. Part of growing in this journey is to do the things that Jesus did and to care about the people whom Jesus cared about. My prayers are heard by God and I am able to freely offer whatever is on my heart and mind. I continue to grow in the practice of prayer through both formal and informal times of prayer. In prayer, I find strength for my journey of faith through life.
Our current sermon series on parenting, “Confessions of a Struggling Parent” is one about which I have had some apprehension over the past couple of months. In the initial planning conversations I was concerned about how the series might come off to people who were single or who did not or could not have children. However, through the planning and discussion the hope was that these sermons might not only speak to the power of being parents biologically, but also to the reality that as members of the body of Christ all of us are called to care for and to nurture the children in our midst.
So often in our culture we tend to define things in such black and white ways that we often end up alienating and isolating others. What it means to be a mother or a father can be understood in very specific biological ways. However, today’s scripture reading challenges that notion. Jesus’ mother and brothers come to him during a time when they have some concerns about what he is doing and how his actions are being perceived. They send word to Jesus that his mother and brothers want to see him and he responds with challenging words, “‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’”
Jesus seems less concerned with blood relationships or legal and socially recognized notions of family than he does about us loving and caring for and living into the kingdom of God with one another. Regardless of who we are, whether we’re married or single, whether we have given birth to children, adopted, or have no children living in our homes, Jesus calls us to be family, to be mothers, to be fathers, to be involved with and invested in caring for the children in our midst.
Rev. Jeff Clinger is the pastor for members of the Resurrection family whose last names begin with D-I. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and he blogs regularly at Changing to Bring Change.
In two weeks, I will be ordained in the United Methodist Church. This has been a journey that I have been on since the 7th grade. Since that time, there have been many people who have mentored me, taught me of God’s love, faithfulness and power. Without them, my life would be significantly different. The verse in today’s psalm, “Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds,” rings true to me. I repeat these words written centuries before and these words could be my words.
At the same time, in ordination, I will agree to serve God and the church for the next 40 years. Forty years from now… that seems to be a long time. Forty years from now, what will you be doing?
You may be old and gray in forty years. The psalm continues to address this, even when we are old and gray, we continue to share God’s faithfulness. The next generation must know the love, power and faithfulness of God. We are the people who are the messengers of this good news. Do you remember a person/people who mentored you? Who was it?
God has worked through your life. Through people you have met, you have heard of God’s love and faithfulness. Through your experiences, you can begin to articulate God’s love and faithfulness in your life. Who are you sharing this good news with? Is it someone younger than you? For all of our days…and even the next forty years…may we be people who tell God’s story so lives will be changed.
What a woman!
This is what it looks like to have noble character, to be a woman–and more particularly a wife and mother–of great worth. I wonder what the author would have said if writing this today? Many things would be just the same–having the confidence of her loved ones, blessing her spouse and her children, caring for family both through time at home and through her work outside the home, serving and caring for the poor and needy, earning an income and investing it wisely, being wise, faithful, and a woman who fears the Lord. I imagine that the “makes coverings for her bed” and “clothed in fine linen and purple” translate a little differently today. And today’s version surely includes something about the grocery store, being present at kids’ activities, and being respected in her vocation.
This isn’t an imaginary woman. You and I know people like this. They may not be a professional clothier as this woman was, but we know women with strength and dignity that speak with wisdom.
For all the moms reading this–this isn’t a checklist to compare yourself to, something to make you feel as though you fall short. Instead, find the qualities that sound like you and realize that these are things that make you beautiful in God’s eyes, things that make you worth praise.
For the rest of us, who are the women that come to mind when you read Proverbs 31? Tell them. Do it today.
Molly Simpson is the Campus Pastor of Resurrection’s West Campus in Olathe. She can be reached at email@example.com.
I appreciate this passage describing God’s care for God’s people. I have no idea what it is like, but I imagine that it would be nearly impossible for a mother to forget a baby who is breast feeding. It would seem as if this experience would bring the two together closely rather than provide the opportunity for a disconnect.
I find comfort in the assurance that God will not forget me. At times, I feel similar to what the Psalmist expresses in verse 14. Even in times like this, I know that God is there. My trust in God is not dependent on a deep feeling of connection at all times. I know that there will be times that I will feel less connected with God and times when I feel more connected. In each of these circumstances of life, I know that God will not forget me and is closer than a mother to her child.
So, the life of the baby Jesus, son of God and Savior of the world, is threatened, and God speaks to Joseph in a dream telling him to take the baby to safety. Really? Does this seem a little risky to anyone else? To trust the life of Jesus to the faithful interpretation and follow through of a dream by a common man. What if Joseph had doubted the vision? What if he had waited too long to take action? What if he had decided that it just wasn’t worth picking up and moving to another country? What if…
It never ceases to amaze me how much responsibility God places in the hands of us, his human creation. One of the greatest responsibilities is the raising, protecting, education, and nurture of children. It is a heavy responsibility for every parent, but also for every member of the church. Each time a child is baptized, we as a congregation make a promise to God to care for that child. God may or may not appear to you in a dream to give you special direction, but God is expecting that you are in tune to God’s voice and direction in how you can contribute to the raising of the children entrusted to us.
What is at stake? Consider all the children who suffered under Herod’s wrath, who were not protected. What we know of God tells us that God loved these children, too. I can’t help but wonder whether there was someone else to whom God spoke, who received direction that could have protected the children, and who, whether out of fear, disbelief, or apathy, did not follow through. What could have been different?
Let’s not take our responsibility lightly. God expects more of us.
Rev. Dagney Pullin is the pastor of community life in the adult discipleship department. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can read her blog at pastordagney.blogspot.com