As promised, during the month of February we are taking a church-wide Sabbath month. Most of you know, this means NO MEETINGS! I am hoping you will utilize this time for some much needed rest and re-centering as we slow down and listen for God’s voice in our very busy lives, church, and world.
You are invited to use this devotional to guide your thoughts for the week, or perhaps during a time when you might normally be in one of our church meetings.
You will see that the format is centered around 4 words: Imagine, Discover, Wonder, & Connect. These words are intentional. So many of our days are centered around words like “doing,” “achievement,” “certainty,” and “busy.” We know that the world won’t stop turning, even if we stop for awhile — but most of us act like it will. This is not the life God created for us. We were created to do four things: to imagine what is possible with God, to discover God’s love poured out for us, to wonder at the mystery and beauty of God’s created world, and to connect with those who inhabit that world with us.
I hope you will take February as a time to re-discover God’s immeasurable love for you and wonder about how God might calling you to continue sharing that love with our community.
Have a blessed Sabbath rest,
The whole Hebrew Bible is a story of human tragedies, but when these tragedies are lived and remembered as the context in which God’s unconditional love for the people of Israel is revealed, this story becomes sacred history.” – Henri Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey
If you have ever climbed a mountain, or hiked a trail, you know that the path is always marked by certain guideposts. Sometimes they are as obvious as a sign with an arrow, pointing, “This Way.” Other times they are more obscure, like the crag of a rock, or a set of deer prints between two trees. Occasionally, you get really lucky and pass a stream or giant rock to guide you along your way.
Or perhaps you love patchwork quilting. You know what it’s like to scour the shelves or give away bins or dresser drawers, collecting little pieces of fabric, each with their own meaning or memory. And one day, they will all come together to help you create a picture of something truly extraordinary.
Our stories are a lot like these two images. The story of our lives are filled with significant moments or inner landmarks. Whether you collect them like patches, or walk them for miles, they create a map of where God is bringing us to the fullness of our life. They are often life-changing, or life-giving moments, such as the start of school, a job, an important relationship, a holiday, the name of friends, the birth of children, the loss of a loved one, and so on.
Our stories guide us in reflecting on when God has come close or felt far from us. They show us when we have trusted, doubted, rebelled, or kept going. They mark our search for God, and moments when we were certain we’ve found God. They alert us to moments when our walk with God connects and intertwines us with others walking along the same path.
Read Luke 24:13-35 a few times, slowly.
We believe that Jesus walks alongside us on our life’s path. Imagine that you are one of the travelers on the road to Emmaus. Let the gentle stranger come beside you and draw you into conversation. He asks you about the events your story and why you are making the journey. He asks you what you think about how your story is progressing and how you feel right now.
What would you say? Don’t be afraid to show your negative feelings as well as the happier memories. The gentle stranger is interested in them all, because he is interested in the whole story.
- What moments in your life feel most significant? Did God show up there?
- What companions have been alongside you at different times as you have walked your path?
- What baggage do you carry? Do you ever wish it wasn’t so heavy?
- Where do you think your path is leading you? Is it preparing you for anything?
- What do you think are some of Hopewell UMC’s most significant landmarks? How can they guide us in our journey?
God gives us a story to connect us to one another.
This week, try to map out your story of faith, so far. What are the patches or landmarks? How do they intersect with others on the journey? How do they intersect with the story of Hopewell UMC? Connect with someone who has been meaningful to your journey of faith.
See other devotionals in this series:
(Photo credit: Nan Palmero on Flickr.)