MCCDC 2017 Lenten Daily Devotional

MCCDC Lenten

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Holy Thursday 2017

Lenten Devotional…The Shepherd by Rev. Dr. Robin Gorsline

The Scripture for meditation is Psalm 23.

Click here to Read Psalm 23

We hear the 23rd Psalm many times in our lives, often at funerals or other moments of distress. I have heard it described as a sandwich of joy with a sorrow center; repeating it or listening to it can provide comfort, reminding us that we are cared for, that no matter what is happening, God walks with us, attends us.

I was once a shepherd of actual sheep-as a 4-H project, from my tenth birthday until high school graduation, I had a small flock of sheep on our tree farm in Michigan. I was responsible for everything about them-their food, shelter, safety, health. I came to cherish them, all those who remained in the flock for more than a year had names (we sold most of the lambs to market, something my vegetarian soul of later years deeply regrets).

That kind of cherishing, and more, is what is being conveyed in this psalm-we shall not want. Tradition says King David wrote the psalms; he was a shepherd when the prophet Samuel anointed him. Of course, David’s reputation as a king has some blotches; human shepherds need correction from time to time. In fact, in ancient times, shepherds often had reputations for attacking travelers for their valuables. Of course, the Lord, God, is a perfect shepherd, caring for us through boundless, endless love. During Lent, as I fast from an internalized tape that undermines by trust in God, I once again give thanks for my shepherd. I hope and pray you feel the Shepherd’s care, too.

I am not a big fan of what is usually considered country music, but Mandy Smith in “Follow the Shepherd Home” speaks to me.

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Lenten e-devotional Day 43

Lenten Devotional…What’s on your mind and heart?

On January 1, worship service attendees wrote what they were trusting for in 2017. Here’s what you said. How are you doing? Blessings on your journey.

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Lenten e-devotional Day 42

Lenten Devotional…Everyone Out by Rev. Dr. Robin Gorsline

Textual focus: Ezekiel 37:1-14; John 11: 1-45

His bones were not yet dry
but after four days his soul-less
body needed Jesus
to breathe him back to life
just as Ezekiel records God did
for the Israelites.
How many times have you been resurrected?
Even in a good life there can be dead ends
for which holy help is the only way out.

Resurrection did not happen only to Lazarus and Jesus. Lots of people have been raised from the dead. I don’t know about you, but I know I have been the beneficiary of God saying to me and to others, “Unbind him, and let him go.” But first I had to hear, and respond to, “Robin, come out!” That happened, of course, when I claimed by sexuality, but that is not the only time. It happened, for example, when I heard the call to accept my wife’s desire to have children, to go to seminary, to claim my husband, to accept my vocation as a writer. Each time, I had been dead to something God had for me, and each time I was raised. God often invites us to rise to new life, even as our resurrections are different. God has specials for each of us. I know this, and I pray you do, too.

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Lenten e-devotional Day 41

Lenten Devotional…Stuck In The Middle With God by Jules Christian

We are getting through Lent and the glitter and ashes have waned away. I don’t know how it has been going for you, but it has been both challenging and a blessing for me, and has caused me to think on the…”The Middle”. Oh, how I used to hate the middle!
Sometimes, the middle can be a difficult place to navigate; far enough from the beginning or one side of something, but not yet able to see the ending or another perspective.

For a long time, my mantra was like the song, “stuck in the middle with you”. I was the middle child. As one of five siblings I was usually squished in the middle seat of the car. I frequently found myself in the middle of arguments between the people I loved. Starting projects or working on goals seemed all fine and well until I got to the middle. Deciding to allow God to move in my life on Sunday when the music is playing and the Spirit is flowing, is a far cry from the middle of the week, when life happens.

I believe that my issue with the middle is part of the reason I spent much of my life functioning in extremes, where it seemed safe and easy, on one side or another. Having been hurt and not wanting it to be repeated, I retreated to my corner of the world, and only to see things from a limited perspective.

I can tell you from a lot of hard work and personal experience, that though sometimes uncomfortable, the middle is an amazing place! The middle is actually the heart, the core; where the good stuff happens. The middle is being in the center between opposing views, and the ability to gain and lend wisdom to different perspectives. It is like being a bridge over troubled waters, bringing people together. The middle is not about the destination, but the journey. It is where God speaks to us and where we walk out our faith. It is where we really feel the power of God in our lives. These days, I love the middle. I am much more about the both/and, than the either/or, and I am a better person for it. I can think of no better place than being stuck in the middle with my God!
So now, in the middle of this season of reflection, preparation, fasting and giving, I pray we will refocus and gain all we can while we are “in the middle” of this season of Lent. It is a holy moment, and I remember that the One I follow was also in the middle for me.

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Lenten e-devotional Day 40

Lenten Devotional…Rev. Elder Margarita Sánchez De León

Pressing On and Through:
Palm Sunday Reflection
After our preparation, are we now ready
and willing to risk it all?

Another Holy Week, Oh God, and I wonder if there is another way to name you, to think about you, to feel you…. Another Palm Sunday and we will raise our palms amid inhospitable cities, walled hearts … do we need to protect one of other? Is it that the love for one’s neighbor is not enough?

Another Holy Week and we will repeat worn out formulas: the sacrifice of Jesus for our redemption; his victory is sure in the resurrection.

Perhaps we cling to old formulas, because the present is difficult.

Perhaps we preserve old metaphors because looking at the horizon, it seems confusing. Or perhaps we sweeten the narratives of Jesus’ passion because we fear the radical transformation of our systems of oppression.

Is it possible to think of a Holy Week with new paradigms?

Did Jesus enter Jerusalem alone or with people longing for new opportunities?

Was his death necessary on the cross, or is it that political and religious systems always kill proposals for radical transformation?

How will we live the liturgy of this time? May it be liturgies inserted in the lives of people and communities. Liturgies that tell us about a God who goes with us. A God who does not always have the answers, who is not and does not want to be almighty. A Spirit of solidarity, who in our image and likeness, suffers, enjoys, has successes and failures, but with us, awake each day waiting for a new opportunity to reach our hearts.

May we live a different Holy Week with the new words that these times require. A Holy Week that fills us with a hope with meaning, a hope of an open heart to the suffering that is lived in every city. A conscious hope that–by the economic, political, and social inequalities–death haunts many.

May resurrection come, the resurrection of our communities when they cry out: stand up, let’s go together. Perhaps the entrance to Jerusalem, as well as the resurrection of Jesus, were communitarian epics. That is, the deeds of those who entered the walled city, crying out for open horizons, for paths without fences. Come on, Jesus among us, our cities wait…. Let’s go with a new faith, a naked faith.

by Rev. Elder Margarita Sánchez De León

on behalf of the
Metropolitan Community Churches Council of Elders

Elder Nancy G. Maxwell, Convener
Rev. Elder Ines-Paul Baumann
Rev. Elder Pat Bumgardner
Rev. Elder Tony Freeman
Rev. Elder Darlene Garner
Rev. Elder Héctor Gutiérrez
Rev. Elder Dwayne Johnson
Elder Nancy G. Maxwell
Rev. Elder Dr. Candace R. Shultis
Rev. Elder Mona West, PhD

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Lenten e-devotional Day 39

Lenten Devotional…Reflection by Jackie Laughlin

The Scripture for meditation is John 4: 1-42.

Click Here To Read John 4: 1-42

They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

Today consider for a moment that that when you are hungry or thirsty hearing from someone else about what someone else had to eat will only make you more hungry. You have to taste it for yourself… After you have eaten and had your full, you can go back and say “Now I know what you are talking about because I have had the experience for myself.

Bread of heaven… feed me till I want no more…

Communion
Break bread with me
Set the table
Gather round
Communion wafer
A bit of challah
A saltine cracker
A cheese Nip

Wine
Just a sip
Grape juice
A swallow

Body and BLOOD and LOVE of Christ
A bit far fetched and BOLD
To be both the host and the menu

I had been advised by Pastor
See Older wiser and more lovely to take
The Eucharist everyday
With intention
No longer the privy withheld by the Priest

But mine
All mine
A prayer of thanksgiving
Each day Vow kept
All is well

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Lenten e-devotional Day 38

Lenten Devotional…What’s on your mind and heart?

The Scripture for meditation is Psalm 51.

Listen to the passage.
Which words capture your attention?
What are the implications for your Lenten journey?
When and how has God instructed you in a path you can take?
What do you feel as you take in the passage?
What would you pray to the Creator as a result?

Amen.

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Lenten e-devotional Day 37

Lenten Devotional…What’s on your mind and heart?

The Scripture for meditation is John 11: 1-45.

Click Here To Read John 11: 1-45

Read through the passage two to three times.
Which words capture your attention?
What are the implications for your Lenten journey?
When and how has God instructed you in a path you can take?
What do you feel as you read the passage?
What would you pray to the Creator as a result?

Amen.

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Lenten e-devotional Day 36

Lenten Devotional….MCC Denominational Resource

The Scripture for meditation is John 11: 1-45:

Click Here To Read John 11: 1-45

From Molly Fumia in The Grateful Heart
Resurrection is the reversal of what was thought to be absolute. The turning of midnight into dawn, hatred into love, dying into living anew.

If we look more closely into life, we will find that resurrection is more than hope, it is our experience. The return to life from death is something we understand at our innermost depths, something we feel on the surface of our tender skin. We have come back to life, not only when we start to shake off a shroud of sorrow that has bound us, but when we begin to believe in all that is still endlessly possible.

We give thanks for all those times we have arisen from the depths or simply taken a tiny step toward something new. May we be empowered by extraordinary second chances. And as we enter the world anew, let us turn the tides of despair into endless waves of hope.

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Lenten e-devotional Day 35

Lenten Devotional…Reflection by James H. Newkirk, Ph.D.

The Scripture for meditation is John 11: 1-15.

Click Here To Read John 11: 1-15

In this scripture, it is important to recognize the elements of discernment and humility shown to the disciples. The simple message that was given was not clearly understood by the men and women that accompanied Jesus. Despite the heartfelt sorrow, for the loss of Lazarus, Jesus had to fulfill the “Heavenly Charge” assigned. I feel it is imperative that believers today exercise the same spiritual discernment to make rational and sound decisions, rather than quickly seeking resolutions for situations.

In this scripture, Jesus apparently consulted with the disciples and when it was not clear what had happened to Lazarus. He had to interpret the message in a manner that they could understand. Even in the midst of our daily trials and tribulations, I would encourage each of us to put into practice the example illustrated for us by Jesus in this scripture. Cautiously examine the pros and cons of situations that manifest come up during our spiritual journey. As the scripture state, “No person walks in the shadows, unless they stumble because they cannot see where they are going; but more so walketh in the light.” This will allow for a clearer perception and understanding of the possible outcomes of the decisions we must make.

As people of faith, we must walk by the Holy Spirit exemplifying God’s favor to order our steps and place a shield of protection around everything we seek to accomplish. My brothers and sisters, let’s not move as those whose minds are clouded; but seek the “Will of God” that governs our very being, recognizing that all things WILL WORK for our good and the good of them that loves the Lord. Just as Lazarus was raised from the dead, so shall we experience that same blessing from God as the ALMIGHTY rules and reigns over our very beings!!! Be patient and do not rush to make irrational decisions, seek God’s face and allow God’s divine will to take reign in every aspect of our life. Watch and wait for the Magnificent Creator’s unyielding glory of the Holy Spirit to begin working on our behalf!!!

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Lenten e-devotional Day 34

Lenten Devotional…MCC Denominational Resource

The Scripture for meditation is John 11: 1-45.

Click Here To Read John 11: 1-45

Prayer for Meditation:
You call us to come out, O God –
out of the tombs in which we are placed, the tombs in which we remain because it all we know;
out of the ruins of conflict, trusting that you will breathe new life into us;
out of the depths of our despair and darkness, into the light of dawn, the light of life.
In Jesus, you call us out into light, and you set us free.
For this new life and freedom, we join with all who have been revived and liberated, to offer our praise.

God, breathe life into each of us as we share.
As we share ourselves, we will take in your call to light, life, and freedom… AMEN.

God of resurrection and life, thank you for our lives, a foretaste of your Realm to come. Help us to not return to tombs and closets, but to embrace the openness of your life, and to live in your light…AMEN.

Read through the passage two to three times.
Which words capture your attention?
What are the implications for your Lenten journey?
From what tombs has Jesus brought you?
What do you feel as you read the passage?
What would you pray to the Creator as a result?

Amen.

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Lenten e-devotional Day 33

Lenten Devotional…MCC Denominational Resource

The Scripture for meditation is John 11: 1-45.

Click Here To Read John 11: 1-45

Let Us Worship:
Gentle Whisperer we come to You today to try on our new set of clothes
Clothes that do not bind us, but free us
We come with our GPS (or Sat Nav) set to ‘New Places’
New Places that enhance our lives and help us grow
We bring our ideas of where we are going
And lay them down never to pick them up again
We open our hearts to new directions
Without fear, without concern, without control. In Your name we pray. Amen.

Prayer of Reflection:
Wondrous Creator, You are giver of all things, yet we do not trust in Your benevolence. You are giver of all grace, yet we do not trust in Your compassion. You are giver of all blessings, yet we do not trust in Your love. Release us from the chains of our own expectations and give us the courage to clothe ourselves in new expectation. Empower us to welcome change as newness infuses our experience. Embolden us to be knit together once more, not by the collection of our own successes and disappointments, but by the bareness of bone, sinew, and breath that is our connection to life in You. Make us brave, Loving God, and make us new.

Amen.

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Lenten e-devotional Day 32

Lenten Devotional…Valley of Dry Bones by Knut Panknin

The Scripture for meditation is Ezekiel 37: 1-14.

Click Here to see the Video

Amen.

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Lenten e-devotional Day 31

Lenten Devotional…What’s on your mind and heart? The Scripture for meditation. From Sister Joan Chittister, OSB

Click Here To Read John 9: 5-41

We [must] prepare to find God where God is by opening ourselves to the world around us with a listening ear. That means that we must be prepared to be surprised by God in strange places, in ways we never thought we’d see and through the words of those we never thought we’d hear. We must allow others – even those whom we have till now refused to consider – to open our hearts to things we do not want to hear. We must release the voice of God in everyone, everywhere. It means putting down the social phobias that protect us from one another. … It presumes that we will reach out to the other – to the gays and the immigrants and the blacks, to the strangers, the prisoners and the poor – in order to divine what visions to see with them, what cries to cry for them, what stones to move from the front of their graves.

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Lenten e-devotional Day 30

Lenten Devotional…Looking Through God’s Eyes by Chaplain Jules Christian

Let us look through the eyes of God and show love to the world.

Click Here to see the Video

Amen.

Lenten e-devotional Day 29

Lenten Devotional…MCC Denominational Resource

The Scripture for meditation.

Click Here To Read John 9: 5-41

Prayer:
Your way surprises us, O God – when we presume to know how the ways of power and authority work, you call to look deeper, to look at the heart; when we presume to know how you work in the world, you bring us messengers who challenge us with truth we have not considered; and when those ‘in the know’ abandon us, you come to us in Jesus and invite us to your fullness of life. We are surprised by joy, and the only response we can offer is praise…

God, let your Spirit enliven our eating and drinking today.
We will let you surprise us by using the simplest things to give us the greatest sustenance… AMEN.

God of surprises, we thank you for the life we receive at your table. Continue to surprise and shock us with insight that we cannot predict; open our eyes and ears, so that we be open to your truth, however it may come to us…AMEN.

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Lenten e-devotional Day 28

Scripture John 9: 1-5 Jesus Heals A Man Born Blind

Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?”
Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s Light.”

God is so faithful
All that was lost is restored.
Know God’s Grace and unfailing Love.

Song for meditation

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Lenten e-devotional Day 27

Lenten Devotional…MCC Denominational Resource

The Scripture for meditation is John 9: 5-41

Click Here To Read John 9: 5-41

Call to Worship:

Spirit of Truth
Let us dance to the truth that You are revealed to us in so many different ways
Spirit of Light
Let us sing the song of light that guides our worship
Spirit of Love
Let us pray the prayer that is in our hearts, not the words that are on our lips
Spirit of Life
We bring our worship to you today, being open to the naked flame that inspires us. Amen.

Prayer of Reflection:
Expose us! Dear God, expose us! Lay us bare and shine Your light upon us and illuminate that pearl of potential which grows inside us with each stress, each excitement, each sacrifice of self. Like David chosen from the field and launched into kingship, pluck us from the mundane and reveal to us our own part in majesty. Surprise us with ourselves and the grand living that comes with the abundance of Your love. Our solemn journey is more than half over, our cup of suffering emptied out to be filled with the joy of Your resurrection. Expose us, God; expose us, that we may be fully known. Amen

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Lenten e-devotional Day 26

Lenten Reflection from the MCC Council of Elders Mid-Lenten Reflection

How did you get such learning without having been taught?

John 7:15

When Jesus went to the temple courts and began to teach, the learned ones were amazed and wondered how in the world this so-called “uneducated” man had gotten to be so smart. I imagine that they had expected him to know nothing at all since they had not taught him anything. In other words, they had not had a chance to limit his thinking to fit within their narrow frame. Simply because Jesus did not behave or speak in the ways they wanted and expected, the religious authorities of the day demonized, imprisoned, and ultimately killed him.
• Have you ever known something that you had never been taught?
• Did you share what you knew with anyone else?
• Were you believed?
• Is there someone else whose truth-telling you do not believe today?
• Which is the greater challenge for you: not to believe or not to be believed?
O God, in the midst of this Lenten Season,
Grant us courage to speak the truth of our limited understanding,
Strength to carry on even when our truth is not believed,
Faith to believe new truths,
And wisdom to expand our knowing
So that we and others might live.
And so it is. Amen.

by Rev. Elder Darlene Garner

on behalf of the Metropolitan Community Churches Council of Elders
Elder Nancy G. Maxwell, Convener
Rev. Elder Ines-Paul Baumann
Rev. Elder Pat Bumgardner
Rev. Elder Margarita Sánchez De León
Rev. Elder Tony Freeman
Rev. Elder Héctor Gutiérrez
Rev. Elder Dwayne Johnson
Rev. Elder Dr. Candace R. Shultis
Rev. Elder Mona West, PhD

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Lenten e-devotional Day 25

Lenten Devotional…by James Newkirk, Ph.D.

Click Here To Read Matthew 6: 16-21

As MCCDC enters into a season of cleansing and reflection, it is my desire for the Glorious Spirit of God to fall a fresh upon each of us so that we will not walk in the same manner as we did in 2016. It is my earnest prayer for us to fervently seek God’s face, through continual spiritual awakening as we enter in prayer and fasting. During this period, the fast is not for external gratification but for the internal edification of MCCDC’s corporate body. However one seeks renewal during this Lenten season, please enter into those practices with heartfelt seeking of spiritual direction and guidance. The rewards for discreet fasting are outward, tangible results, not only for the individual but for MCCDC as a body. As a follower of Christ, it is my earnest prayer for Divine revelation, and spirit awakenings like never before. The scripture states, “Where two or three touch and agree; there God’s spirit will be in their midst.” May the glory of God fall afresh on each person that seeks to be receptive to the Divine will of God and embrace the outward pouring of the precious gifts that we have room to receive. IN JESUS NAME, AMEN!!!

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Lenten e-devotional Day 24

Lenten Devotional…by Gary Chapman in “This I Believe” from All Things Considered (NPR)

What do I believe? That the stories I tell myself shape my truth, my soul, and my life. I was raised to be a good Baptist, and to be a patriotic American. I was raised to believe Catholics were idol-worshippers, liberals were communists, and that black and white never mixed. God filled the background, ready to condemn me into Hell. God saw everything bad about me, knew every wayward thought. I was born with original sin — I had no chance. At the same time, being a white American provided me a sense of privilege, of being one of the “better” people. …

After years of struggle and depression,] I started to change the basic stories of my life: that I’m bad, alienated from God, a freak of nature. I started to love myself and to believe the Divine did so as well. As that belief strengthened through the repetition of story, I began to love others and I was loved back. The racism I grew up with faded. The more I loved myself, the more beauty I saw in everyone else. The more I healed, the more I viewed the Bible and all of our great myths as stories told by others, and I looked more and more to my heart to find the right one for me.

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Lenten e-devotional Day 23

Lenten Devotional…MCC Denominational Resource: “Getting the Whole Story”

Click Here to Read John 4:5-42

Prayer:
We give you all praise and thanks, O God –
even when we aren’t satisfied that you work in the ways we prefer;
even when you force us to look at those parts of ourselves we would rather not see. You do this not to destroy us or embarrass us,
but to bring us to greater knowledge of ourselves and of you.
We praise you that in Jesus, you promise to satisfy our thirst for understanding with even deeper refreshment – the refreshment of your ever-present love.
Therefore, with the doubters and skeptics, the questioners, and the believers who make up your people, we offer you our praise.

God, transform the gifts we offer you today.
In spite of our doubts, our complaints, and our questions,
we trust that you will nourish us today. May that nourishment be a constant source of energy for us, sustaining us through uncertainty, dissatisfaction, and doubt, to renewed trust and faith in your purposes for us. AMEN.

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Lenten e-devotional Day 22

Lenten Devotional by Rev. Dr. Robin Gorsline

Click Here to Read John 4:5-32

“Give me a drink.” These simple words of Jesus to the Samaritan women at the well catch me every time I encounter this story. In this interaction, he is not offering water or bread or anything special to her, he is naming his own need. He is tired, perhaps hot, and thirsty, and he is alone. How ordinary. So often we pay attention to the fact of his speaking to a Samaritan-always a good example for us, to not put up walls against those who the world claims are not worthy of us-and of course he teaches her and she responds with gratitude and awe, and spreads the word about him to many others. But it all begins with his thirst.

How thirsty am I? I do not drink enough water every day, that I know, and I am trying to do better. But what about spiritual thirst, thirst for the living water Jesus promises, the water that will become “a spring of water gushing up to eternal life?” Would this not
be a good daily prayer, perhaps every morning, to say to God or Jesus or to whomever we pray, “Give me a drink.” We can begin to say it now, in Lent, and just keep on asking for, and receiving, the living water. What a gift from God, what a gift to ourselves.

Note: Click below to hear a song, “Living Waters,” by a South African gospel singer, Hlengiwe Mhlaba. I had not heard of her before, but was deeply moved by the power of her voice and the testimony of the song. She does use Father language at one point-I am not so comfortable with a God who is only male, and I know MCC inclusive language practices and policies tries to avoid this, but she and the song are so evocative that I think it right to use.

“Living Waters,” by a South African gospel singer, Hlengiwe Mhlaba.

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Lenten e-devotional Day 21

Lenten Devotional…
MCC Denominational Resource: “Getting the Whole Story”

Click Here To Read John 4:5-42

Call to Worship:
Great weaver of the story of our lives,
We come before You to offer our worship.
As a community we explore how our narratives
Are interwoven with Your love and direction.
May the breath of Your Living Word
Weave its way through all we do in Your name. Amen.

Prayer of Reflection:
Heavenly Mother-Father God, You know our comings and our goings. You know what we have suffered and what we suffer still. You have perfect insight into our joys and our desires. Yet we struggle to know ourselves as clearly as You know us. We spend needless time in worry. We lose countless moments to fearful thinking, attempting to know as You know. Empower us, Loving Parent, to trust in your leading; to welcome Your still small voice which leads us into serenity and peace. Turn us to the narrative of our neighbors which provides new dimensions to our compassion. Yet, most of all, make Your presence known to us as we, day by day, co-create the narrative of our own lives with attention to Your faithful plan. In your many holy names we pray, Amen.

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Lenten e-devotional Day 20

Lenten Devotional…by Mark Dunkum

John 4:5-42 is known as the story of the Woman at the Well. Jesus was in Samaria, and there was a rift between the Jews and the Samaritans.

Throughout his life, as well as with the woman at the well, Jesus showed respect and acceptance of those who were shunned by society, a lesson we can all benefit from today.

Not only did he talk with her and allow her to give him water, he told her that God’s salvation is available to everyone, not just those who are a certain type of people.
God’s unconditional love for us, our direct connection to God, and the availability of salvation to us ALL are all things that Jesus taught us about.

While the passage begins with Jesus asking the woman for water, it is her who gets her spiritual thirst quench. Afterwards, she went on to spread the good news to others.
Let us go out and spread the good news too. We don’t have to preach or even talk about the Bible. We can simply live our lives as examples and provide help and advice when asked.

Lenten e-devotional Day 19

MCC Denominational Resource: “Getting the Whole Story”

Scripture Reading John 4: 5-42

Read through the passage two to three times.

What is the story we are telling ourselves?
Are there empowering parts we’re not telling?
How can we learn more about our story by listening to others?
What story is God telling?

Amen.

Click to share more thoughts on the questions.

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Lenten e-devotional Day 18

Reflection by Rev. Dr. Robin Gorsline

The Scripture for meditation is John 9: 1-41

Click Here To Read John 9: 1-41

I sat in this year’s Ash Wednesday service, pondering what I should fast from during Lent. I asked God for guidance and the answer came clearly: do not partake of those internal messages that say you are not capable of responding to the call on your soul to be the writer God creates you to be. In that moment, my eyes were opened. I saw how I had been denying God, undermining my part in God’s mission, doubting that God knows what God is doing. Like Pharisees, and many others throughout history, I had been acting as if I knew more than God-primarily because God did not ask for or obtain my permission to do what God is doing in my life. This is a fairly common human attitude-we say God is at the center of life, but we, at least I, really have a hard time getting out of God’s way. The blessing, as Jesus showed again and again, is that God never stops giving us the opportunity to see more clearly, and thus, to live more fully, more faithfully.

The video is an old favorite praise song, “Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord,” this time sung on the Number 1 Train going from Harlem, Columbia U. and toward downtown in Manhattan (my old graduate school stomping grounds at Union Theological Seminary).

Open the Eyes of My Heart

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Lenten e-devotional Day 17

Reflection by Jim Garner

The Scripture for meditation is John 3:17.
“For God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Christ.”

When I was a child, my Mom instilled in me the teachings of John 3:16 – that God loved us so much that the son was given for the forgiveness of our sins. I grew up in the Assembly of God church – a Pentecostal evangelical church. During my adolescence we had a very good pastor in our church. Each Sunday he would lead us through a solid bible lesson, offering clear explanations of how we can simply live life and follow God’s word.

Occasionally we would have a revival. I hated revivals. These events meant a strange visiting evangelist would come in, from God knows where, and he (it was almost always a man) would give a fire and brimstone lecture about how we are sinners and need to repent. And I am sure you can guess what was high on the hit parade of condemned sins.

As a teenager, I was working hard to suppress a truth about who I was. I could not be gay, because I wanted to be loved by God. But with the thoughts I had and the message I was receiving from these evangelists, I had doubt about my status with God.

I clung to John 3:16 as I struggled to reconcile my faith with who I knew I was. Over time I came to realize there’s more to the story — in fact more to John chapter 3. There is verse 17. Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world — The promise of grace. God is not about condemning but about accepting us, just as he created us.
God, we are thankful for your abundant grace. I accept your promise and will not allow others to try to condemn and separate me from your love.

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Lenten e-devotional Day 16

What’s on your mind and heart?

The Scripture for meditation is Psalm 23.

Read through the passage two to three times.
Which words capture your attention?
What are the implications for your Lenten journey?
When and how has God instructed you in a path you can take?
What do you feel as you read the passage?
What would you pray to the Creator as a result?

Amen.

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Lenten e-devotional Day 15

Provider” by Jackie Laughlin

I was back in California for a time in early September 2015 when heard this song written by a young man Sean who I knew to be the drummer at the church I attended regularly. Christian rock is not my favorite genre but I was so immediately touched and comforted by this song , I thanked him profusely after the service, and he sent me the song within a couple of days. I had no idea he was a prolific and gifted songwriter and while I had attended for some time, I had never once heard him sing.

It was definitely a period of feeling alone in the wilderness for me. I was still living in DC and CA and had not yet completed the cross country move.

I was so uncertain about what would happen and I was worried WORRIED, worried about everything. I definitely had faith in God, but did not have the kind of trust in GOD that everything ALWAYS worked for my GOOD. I so wanted that feeling of comfort to carry me through each day in a season of great change and ambiguity. Somehow when I sang the song, it helped!

I felt that I had so many decisions to make and I lacked spiritual discernment. In fact, I was actually learning each day how to feel peaceful when I made a decision but I also did not recognize peace when it came … the peace that occurs beyond understanding when you don’t know the details, but you’re still able to move forward with confidence.

It was also during that time I had begun the spiritual practice of having communion every day. I decided that the song was indeed a gift. I started singing the song every day totally convinced that the young man in my church had written it just for me. I learned to record the song on my computer in my kitchen where all great things happened and I sang it with Sean each morning. We had CHURCH, we had COMMUNION and I allowed the day to unfold with eyes of wonder and expectancy. Each day, I grew stronger.

I see Lent now as a time when I enter into closer communion with God. There is no sacrifice or lack of feeling as if I am giving something up! I recognize that my ability to confidently spend this kind of time in communion with God has been steadily growing. Now, not only do I feel God’s peace beyond understanding regularly. I also experience the sweetness and predictability of God’s unfailing love. As Rev. Dwayne preached recently, Lent is a time when we can truly know the GIVER and PROVIDER as the source of all things. I am so less consumed on when and where I will be the recipient of the gifts I am asking for…. I know I have all I need. We are ONE.

Please have a listen to Sean’s Provider SONG, as and play throughout the day needed. Have church whenever you can! You are never alone!

“Provider”

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Lenten e-devotional Day 14

“Would You Like Fries With That?” by Jules Christian

After a long day at work yesterday I stopped by McDonalds to grab a McPick 2. I ordered my fish sandwich and my chicken nuggets and my sweet tea, but when my order came up there was large fry in the bag. I said, ‘mam, I don’t think this is my order, I didn’t order fries.’ She smiled and said, “that’s okay, take them anyway; have a good night.” Ordinarily I would have been very happy as I popped the hot salty deliciousness in my mouth, only this time I wasn’t because part of my Lenten Discipline this year is giving up potatoes.

I have never in my life received free fries, but ironically now when I can’t eat them, I do. My first thought was to throw them out, but I didn’t want to waste them, and I thought that if I saw a homeless person I would give them away, and if not I would take them home to Gracie and Leo who would happily wag their tails for a treat. The smell of the hot fries filled my car as I drove home, but really it wasn’t a temptation.

My commitment for spiritual discipline and renewal with God outweighed my desire to eat the fries. I had an awesome ride home, spending time in prayer. I am not usually good at will power and resisting food, but to me this wasn’t the same as a diet or losing weight, it was about getting closer to God. Every time you think of that “thing” you might have given up Lent, let it draw you closer to the Lord.

Amen.

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Lenten e-devotional Day 13

Forgiveness by James Newkirk, Ph.D.

Read Psalm 32

Prayer of meditation:

Heavenly Creator, Ruler of the Universe, Master of All Things, I pray this day that you allow your Spirit of Forgiveness to reign over the lives of your beloved vessels. Help us to realize that your tender mercies rule and reign over all aspects of our beings. Even in the midst of those periods of discomfort, false accusations, and even abuse, allow your grace to equip us with the Spirit of Forgiveness. While it may not be the perpetrator of violence who is harmed by those actions, but those who are preyed upon, when we choose to allow those individuals to continue to have control over our emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.

This day, I pray for God’s unwavering love and comfort over our lives. I pray that each of us would allow the Spirit of the Divine to be made real in us and through us to be the tangible elements of Christ. It has been psychologically documented that offering forgiveness is not necessarily for the perpetrator, yet more so for the one that is the recipient of such wrongdoing. It is my prayer today, that God’s grace brings miraculous and spiritual healing in all of our lives and that we would no longer be held hostage to any negative thoughts, past hurts, or injustices that have control over our physical and spiritual well-being any longer!!! This I pray in the NAME THAT IS ABOVE ALL NAMES, JESUS CHRIST.

ASHAY AND AMEN!!!

Amen.

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Lenten e-devotional Day 12

What’s on your mind and heart?

Today’s scripture passages:

Read Psalm 121

Read John 15: 5-13

Read through the passages two to three times.
Which words capture your attention?
What are the implications for your Lenten journey?
When and how has God instructed you in a path you can take?
What do you feel as you read the passage?
What would you pray to the Creator as a result?

Amen.

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Lenten e-devotional Day 11

The Power of Patience by Rev. Akousa McCray-Peters

Senior Pastor Unity Fellowship Church of Washington, DC
Are you someone who is always in a hurry? If so, you will be in for a few disappointments. Why? Because life has a way of unfolding according to its own timetable, not ours. That’s why life requires patience….and lots of it!

Most of us are impatient for God to grant us the desires of our heart. Usually, we know what we want, and we know precisely when we want it: right now, if not sooner. But God may have other plans. And when God’s plans differ from our own, we must trust in God’s infinite wisdom and in that infinite Love.

Lamentations 3:25 reminds us that, “The Lord is wonderfully good to those who wait for the Lord” (NIV). But, for most of us, waiting quietly is difficult because we’re in such a hurry for things to happen.

The next time you find your patience tested to the limit, sit down, take a deep breath, and relax. Sometimes life can’t be hurried, and during those times, patience is indeed a priceless virtue.

From my Morning Devotional Readings ” Growing In Grace”.

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Lenten e-devotional Day 10

What’s on your mind and heart?

The Scripture for meditation is Psalm 32.

Click Here To read Psalm 32

Read through the passage two to three times.
Which words capture your attention?
What are the implications for your Lenten journey?
When and how has God instructed you in a path you can take?
What do you feel as you read the passage?
What would you pray to the Creator as a result?

Amen.

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Lenten e-devotional Day 9

Reflection by Rev. Dr. Robin Gorsline

I sat in this year’s Ash Wednesday service, pondering what I should fast from during Lent. I asked God for guidance and the answer came clearly: do not partake of those internal messages that say you are not capable of responding to the call on your soul to be the writer God creates you to be. In that moment, my eyes were opened. I saw how I had been denying God, undermining my part in God’s mission, doubting that God knows what God is doing. Like Pharisees, and many others throughout history, I had been acting as if I knew more than God-primarily because God did not ask for or obtain my permission to do what God is doing in my life. This is a fairly common human attitude-we say God is at the center of life, but we, at least I, really have a hard time getting out of God’s way. The blessing, as Jesus showed again and again, is that God never stops giving us the opportunity to see more clearly, and thus, to live more fully, more faithfully.

MCCDC - The Place To Be

Lenten e-devotional Day 8

Reflection on Psalm 32:5 by Knut Panknin

Knut has submitted his reflection in the form of a video. Watch Here

Click Here To Watch The Video

Join us for connection at the Weekly Lenten Lunchtime “Tele-Prayer” at noon today.
Phone # 857-232-0476, pass code 976702.

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Lenten e-devotional Day 7

The Tale of Two Freds by Jim Garner

“For God did not send the Beloved into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through that Love.” John 3:17

I grew up in Kansas – or as we say, I was raised in Kansas. I spent much of my career working in state government in Topeka Kansas. The Day-Glo “God Hates Fags” signs carried by Fred Phelps and his family were on display at least weekly in downtown Topeka.

I initially dismissed them as oddities good for a laugh or two. But then I had a dear friend whose spouse died. When I arrived at the church for the funeral, there was Fred Phelps and his clan parading about with their hateful ugly signs claiming to condemn my friend’s spouse to hell. I saw first-hand how their words were disruptive and hurtful to others. It was no longer a silly oddity to be laughed at.

The episode brings to mind the teachings of another Fred with a completely different message – one of love and acceptance instead of condemnation. Fred Rogers of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood fame is one of my lifelong heroes. I continued to watch his show even as a college student – he offered so much profound yet simple wisdom. Fred Rogers once said, “To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”

One Fred was horribly misusing the name of God as a tool to condemn others. The other Fred used his talents to promote love and acceptance. It’s clear to me which Fred was following the teachings of Jesus set forth in John chapter 3.

Prayer: God, we ask you to help us when we might find ourselves ready to condemn someone, and to give us the strength and will to be like Fred – Fred Rogers – to love that person and accept the person as they are right here and now. Amen.

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Lenten e-devotional Day 6

What’s on your mind and heart?

The Scripture to meditate on is Matthew 6: 16-21 (NSRV, adapted)
Whenever you fast, do not look dismal like the hypocrites who disfigure their faces to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Creator who is in secret. Your Creator who sees in secret will reward you.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal. Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Recently those at worship were asked to answer three questions from their hearts.Here is a graphical representation of your answers to the request to “Write one or more spiritual practices that are seen only by Your Creator.”

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Lenten e-devotional Day 5

I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW
Good Sunday morning. I’m writing this on Thursday (March 2) so I’m not sure if the sun will be greeting us on March 5, the First Sunday in Lent. What I do know, is that the Spirit will be shining as God’s people gather today at MCCDC, in person and on LiveStream. Today I begin a series for Lent entitled, “Live Well. Love Well.” Living well and loving well don’t just happen by hoping they will happen. Both call for intentionally. What consistent practices bring about more life and love?

Many at MCCDC have chosen various intentions and practices for the 40 days of Lent. One of my practices is to begin each day on a positive and uplifting note. So I have set my phone alarm to awaken me to the song “I Can See Clearly Now,” the Gladys Knight version. The song has become a daily prayer for clarity. It is a call to joy. I find myself humming it throughout the day. It reminds me to choose more time in the brightness and less time on the midnight train.

Take a listen, and consider what the Spirit may hold for you in this simple, uplifting song:

Click Here to hear the Song:”I Can See Cleary Now”

Yours in Lent,
Rev. Elder Dwayne

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Lenten e-devotional Day 4

What’s on your mind and heart?

The Scripture to think about is Matthew 6: 16-21 (CEB, adapted)
And when you fast, don’t put on a sad face like the hypocrites. They distort their faces so people will know they are fasting. I assure you that they have their reward. When you fast, brush your hair and wash your face. Then you won’t look like you are fasting to people, but only to your Creator who is present in that secret place. Your God who sees in secret will reward you.
Stop collecting treasures for your own benefit on earth, where moth and rust eat them and where thieves break in and steal them. Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust don’t eat them and where thieves don’t break in and steal them. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Recently those at worship were asked to answer three questions from their hearts.Here is a graphical representation of your answers to the question “How do you envision treasures in Heaven?”

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Lenten e-devotional Day 3

 

What do you see and feel?

The Scripture to think about is Joel 2:1-2, 12-17

Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming, it is near- a day of sadness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick shadows! Like cloud cover spreading upon the mountains a great and powerful army comes; their like has never been from of old, nor will be again after them in ages to come. Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; your hearts and not your clothing.
Return to the Lord, your God, for God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. Who knows whether God will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind, a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord, your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the aged; gather the children, even infants at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her canopy. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep. Let them say, “Spare your people, O Lord, and do not make your heritage a mockery, a byword among the nations. Why should it be said among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?”

Read through the passage two to three times.
Which words catch your attention?
What are the implications for your Lenten journey?
What do you feel as you read the passage?
What would you pray to the Creator as a result?
Amen.

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An Ash Wednesday Letter from Pastor Dwayne

 
THROUGH IT ALL YOU ARE BELOVED
 
“Lent is a time to enter into closer communion with God. Lent is a time of returning to God. It is a time to confess how we keep looking for joy, peace and satisfaction in the many people and things surrounding us, without really finding what we desire. Only God can give us what we want. . .Lent is a time of refocusing, of reentering the place of truth, of reclaiming our true identity.”
~Henri Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey, 112

It is 6 AM on Ash Wednesday. As I awaken early today, before the noise of the day peaks, I realize I’m not ready for Lent. Advent, Christmas and Epiphany still seem so fresh, the lights of those seasons still shining. I feel drawn to go deeper into the seasons that have just passed. Yet Lent is saying “I’m here now and I have something to teach you.” So I say yes, not knowing what to expect. Yet knowing this one thing: the Inner Voice of Love says: “Through it all you are beloved.”

However you observe Lent, my prayer is that through these 40 days you will closely connect with your belovedness. You are wonderfully and awesomely created!

Each morning during Lent you will receive an e-devotional offered from various voices in the MCCDC Community. Some days it may be a poem. Other days it may be a meme or a song. The selections will be simultaneously published on MCCDC’s Facebook page. Our theme this year is taken from MCC’s Office of Church Life and Health: “Naked Faith: Revealing Resurrection.” I’m grateful to Rev. Cathy Alexander and to Frank Wirmusky for coordinating and editing this series.

Today, I invite you to join me at Noon for the first of our “Lenten Lunchtime Prayer” gatherings, by call-in or in person. The service will go for 40 minutes, representing the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert. Thanks to the Pastoral Care Ministry for sponsoring this opportunity with the facilitation of Rose Herring and Bill Campbell. Feel free to call-in for the entire 40 minutes, or just a few moments. Here is the call-in information:
857-232-0476
Code: 976702

Our Ash Wednesday service is at 7 PM with the theme “Ashes & Glitter.” This service will invite us to consider the frailty of our dusty humanness, AND the sparkling glory of God’s presence shining through at the same time.

Yours through All Seasons,
Rev. Elder Dwayne