Devotional || Psalm 99

By Beth Ferguson, Lay Leader and Member to the Annual Conference.

The Lord rules—
    the nations shake!
    He sits enthroned on the winged heavenly creatures—
    the earth quakes!
The Lord is great in Zion;
    he is exalted over all the nations.
Let them thank your great and awesome name.
    He is holy!

Strong king[a] who loves justice,
    you are the one who established what is fair.
    You worked justice and righteousness in Jacob.
Magnify the Lord, our God!
    Bow low at his footstool!
    He is holy!
Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
    Samuel too among those who called on his name.
They cried out to the Lord, and he himself answered them—
    he spoke to them from a pillar of cloud.
They kept the laws and the rules God gave to them.
Lord our God, you answered them.
    To them you were a God who forgives
    but also the one who avenged their wrong deeds.
Magnify the Lord our God!
    Bow low at his holy mountain
    because the Lord our God is holy!

Psalm 99, Common English Bible

God is Holy, God rules. God has been with us from the beginning of human existence. God was with Moses and Aaron before there was a temple, even before the Ten Commandments had been handed down. God ruled over the Israelites and over all the nations, and God still rules today.

When Jesus was born as a human baby, and grew to be the Messiah, when he gave his life for our sins, and was resurrected to bring us salvation, he showed us a better way to live.  Jesus taught us to bring his kingdom to earth as it is in heaven. Jesus loves justice as God does. Jesus showed us the way to care for the poor and needy, to love our enemies and  to love our neighbors as ourselves. He taught us who our neighbors are.

In this Psalm, God loves justice, God forgives our sins, but also punishes them. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross does not give us carte blanche to do whatever we want, Jesus expects us to repent and become like him, recognizing that as humans we will all have our bad moments.

In this time of pandemic COVID-19, we are seeing where healthcare disparities exist, as we see the socio-economic differences in who dies from the virus, not just the aged, but those with diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Nearly ¾ of those who have died have been African-American or Hispanic. As people become unemployed, they are losing their employer based health insurance. COBRA is expensive and how do you pay it when you’re unemployed? We are called to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.

Where are we called to be advocates and make a real difference in the lives of others? Remember, God is holy;God calls us to justice; and, God loves us and all the nations; God loves the poor and doesn’t care about the color of your skin.

Bow low before God’s majesty, because the Lord our God is Holy.

A Prayer from the Extended Cabinet

By Rev. Dr. David V. Calhoun, Superintendent of the Connecticut/Western Massachusetts District (based on John 17:1-11 & Acts 1:6-14)

O God, we open our collective souls to your presence, and we bow before the mystery of your creative power. We lift our hearts to you as the source of our creation, and our help in every time of need. As we find ourselves at the dawning of a new day, we ask for your continued strength as we reach for greater knowledge. Impart upon us the spiritual gifts that we need for this day; and for all of our tomorrows. 

Though we encounter the trials of life, you, O God, remain our constant companion. Be with those undergoing difficulties in coping with the challenges of life today. You know our fears when life seems unfair and when we feel faint of heart. You know the angst that obstructs us, the temptations we resist, and the limitations we must overcome. Help us to release our resentments, and fill us with your peace.

We live in the assurance that you free us from that which is destructive. Preserve our lives according to your will, and for the sake of your realm. Help us to seek your good for the world, and to serve one another in the fellowship of our Christ like spirits. Give us courage in the midst of this pandemic, and grant us peace as we are walk through uncharted valleys. Make us valiant in our service to you and the world. Grant us with a sense of your presence, and fill us with courage as we come again to a greater certainty. 

We thank you for the qualities of goodness, mercy, wisdom and love that you have blessed us with; and may we be a witness to these things.   Amen and Amen

Devotional || Psalm 47

By Beth Ferguson, Lay Leader and Member to the Annual Conference.

Clap your hands, all you people!
    Shout joyfully to God with a joyous shout!
Because the Lord Most High is awesome,
    he is the great king of the whole world.
He subdues the nations under us,
    subdues all people beneath our feet.
He chooses our inheritance for us:
    the heights of Jacob, which he loves. Selah

God has gone up with a joyous shout—
    the Lord with the blast of the ram’s horn.
Sing praises to God! Sing praises!
    Sing praises to our king! Sing praises
    because God is king of the whole world!
    Sing praises with a song of instruction![a]

God is king over the nations.
    God sits on his holy throne.
The leaders of all people are gathered
    with the people of Abraham’s God
    because the earth’s guardians belong to God;
        God is exalted beyond all.

Psalm 47, Common English Bible

God is in control, not just of our corner of the world, not just of Christians, but of the whole world. God is creator and redeemer and God’s grace welcomes everyone.

Jesus came to the earth to live among us and show us a better way, a way to love God and one another. Jesus taught and prayed and preached as he healed and cared for all he met. He told the disciples: “19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age” (Matt:28:19-20).

Then he ascended into heaven. This Psalm refers to God going up, other versions say God ascended, and there was a joyous shout. After the ascension of Jesus, the disciples waited and worried about the promise that Jesus had made to send them an advocate until on Pentecost the Holy Spirit descended upon them and they were energized to preach the gospel and bring thousands to Christ. We still can shout with joy, for we, too, have the Holy Spirit to guide and comfort us and bring us hope.

We long for the day when the leaders of all nations can sit together singing praises to God because God is the king of the whole earth.

A Prayer from the Extended Cabinet

By Rev. Jill Colley-Robinson, Vermont District Superintendent

Rising Christ,
 
Couldn’t you stay just a bit longer?
Couldn’t you teach us more about the scriptures?
There is so much in this life that we still do not understand.
Couldn’t you sit down to one more meal with us,
keeping us company while we keep our distance from others?
Couldn’t you tell us one more time about forgiveness —
how it changes everything and sets us free?
Couldn’t you hold off on sending the promised power?
We want you here with us.
We know you.
We need you.
Are you sure you want us, with all of our inadequacies,
to be your witnesses?
If indeed we must be your witnesses
stay, and show us more of what you intend.
Please stay.
 
Why does it always feel like there is not enough time —
like we should have known then what we know now and made different choices?
….. These are yesterday’s questions — even last night’s desperate requests.
But in the light of today, in the most graceful way imaginable,
you lift our doubts and longings and uncertainties
and take them with you.
We are unburdened and ready, just as you hoped.
…..

If in the future the old ache creeps back in, as it invariably does,
help us to once again embrace today’s final, miraculous gesture
as we lift our faces to the stunning spring sky —
you
blessing us.

Thanks be to God for this indescribable gift.

Amen.

Thursday, May 21, 2020 || Praise & Prayer

Join us for a service of praise and prayer tonight at 7:30 pm ET. This is an opportunity for us to gather (virtually) together, offer our thanks to God, pray with and for one another, and check in (asking: how is it with you today?). You can join this service virtually through Google Meet by clicking this link (https://meet.google.com/txp-ndfa-ivu) or by calling 1-440-467-1448, the PIN is 220 679 745#.

All are welcome. To add this event to your Google calendar, click here.

You can view the order of our service below. You can download  it using the button below.