April 30

   

April 30, 2020

DAILY ENCOURAGEMENT
DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC

By Rev. Maria Szabo Berces

 

 

Beloved Carstairs Bancroft United Church Members,

Yesterday, we were reminded of God’s presence with us. We could read the affirmation that God is always right beside us; just a prayer away; ready to comfort, strengthen and to guide us.

Being God’s children through Jesus Christ gives us privileges, inheritance and rights. However, being part of the ‘family’ also comes with responsibilities. John recorded Jesus words to his disciples: “If you love me, keep my commands.” (John 14:15)

He also said: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:9-11)

Jesus teaches us that loving him, keeping his commands and joy are interrelated.

If we love someone, we try to please that person. It is our pleasure to find out more about that person, and it doesn’t feel burdensome to listen to that person and accommodate that person’s point of view. As I can see, love is the motivation to get to know, and to keep Jesus’s commands. As we endeavor to do so, God – who is love – surrounds us, and this presence provides us support, promotes our spiritual growth and guides us on this path. And we have a wonderful promise here: on this journey God’s joy may be in us and our joy may be complete!

I believe if people sense this joy, it can be compelling to them. It can make a real difference if we carry out our mission at Carstairs Bancroft United Church with pleasure and joy. And I also believe that every one of us has the ability to bring joy to God.

In my view, it is not merely because of our talents and capability to do things for our church family. You probably know well the historic words of J.F. Kennedy from his inaugural address: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country…” As this approach challenged every American to contribute in some way to the public good, we all have at least one talent with which we can contribute to the purpose and mission of the Church. But the main reason of God’s joy is you yourself, as you were “wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).

The devotion I share with you today encourages us to pray for times when we can have open doors again to visibly carry out the Church’s mission.  But regardless of the time-span of the gathering restrictions, we can strengthen our connection with God by recognizing our value in God’s eyes, and by doing our best in finding out more how we can remain in Jesus’ love.       

Grace and Peace to You All,

Rev. Maria

 The Job Nobody Wants

Jesus says: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. 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, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you…” /Matthew 28:18-20

When I was a kid, we did not spend money on soft-drinks but we made carbonated water at home.

There was a simple rule in every household, whoever had the last glass out of the bottle (or siphon) had to prepare the next one. It was a typical 2-minute job, but nobody wanted… it was not more difficult or complicated than taking out the trash but nobody wanted that either.

Why was that so unpopular, I have no idea, but it was the same almost everywhere.

We have a lot of things to do in the church too. Some of them are unpopular, some of them not so much. However, the question of how to run a congregation in a Christ-honoring way is not a regular one.

In life, it is quite common to avoid the most basic and fundamental questions of our existence.

In church life, it is equally common to avoid the most important issues and questions of purpose, meaning and mission too.

Not long ago I mentioned the witty remark that “God comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.” But in light of the challenges ahead of us it seems to be bitterish and sobering.

However, one thing has not changed: our mission. We need to pray for wisdom (and open doors) to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ in this World.

 

Prayer– by Carol Penner:

I want You to be the God who calls me.

Hear my late-night late life lament.

I’ve missed the train for glory too many times to count,

a no-show in the parade of saints,

absent without cause in the angel army.

I’m here today to say, “I want to hear, help my unhearing.”

Let the words of my mouth speak out the meditations of Your heart,

truly, clearly, faithfully, today and always. Amen.

Devotion by Rev. Geza

Used with permission