Monday, April 17, 2017

New Beginnings, Over and Over Again

Today's reflection on the Daily Texts:

When people fall, do they not get up again? If they go astray, do they not turn back? - Jeremiah 8:4

Jesus said to him the third time, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep." - John 21:17

Two-year reading texts: Psalm 50:7–15; Job 20; 1 Corinthians 1:21–2:2

It's been almost a month since I posted my "daily" reflections here. I guess you can tell that this was not my top Lenten discipline!

During the time when I "ran out of time" or "get out of the routine" of daily posting, there were several days where I found grace in the Daily Texts verses and/or the sections of the two-year reading cycle. Lent, of course, is also known for its theme of "returning to the Lord." So even though I didn't do so well at posting here regularly, I was able to keep up (on most days) with reading and prayers, and I was grateful for messages that kept pointing me back to God's faithfulness and love, regardless of our human standards of success or failure.

Now, it's the day after Easter, and I (like many pastors!) feel like I'm emerging from a time of extra responsibilities. Here, the weather is even promoting that feeling, as it's sunny and fairly warm, and signs of spring are budding all around. So it was pleasing, but not surprising, to find that today's Daily Texts led me again to a sense of grace. Jeremiah seems to know that we often "fall" in our daily routines, and "go astray" from the best paths. And John's gospel takes care to show that even Peter's three-times denial of Jesus is forgiven and turned around with Jesus' three-times question about love and call for Peter to get back to his ministry.

I was also struck today by Psalm 50:14, which points out that it's thanksgiving that is our best offering of sacrifice to God. Instead of material things, it's an intimate relationship with us that God desires most.

And in 1 Corinthians, Paul's reflections on "proclaiming Christ crucified" and on "God's foolishness and weakness" speak of a God who identifies with us in our limitations - and uses those very limitations as occasions for God's unique love and power to be shown.

Humility, obedience, love, and faithfulness are familiar themes here. In all that I try to do in my life and in my ministry - including posting here - the fate of the world doesn't depend on my success or failure. Instead, all is in God's hands, and God calls me to be involved as I'm able. 

Maybe you can join me in gratitude for second chances, for being called repeatedly to get back up, to return again, to dust off and step back into the work God has at hand for us. This is the season of new life in the resurrection, of bright surprise in where we do and don't find God, of finding a way where we thought there was no way, of astounding and humbling results when we're able to do the simple things God calls us to do. Thank you, God, for new beginnings, over and over again.


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