| April 29, 2020
DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC
By Rev. Maria Szabo Berces
Beloved Carstairs Bancroft United Church Members,
The daily devotion I would like to share with you today confirms the encouragement from yesterday. It is that when we let God to be part of our life, we are never alone, not even as we wrestle with changes; or with losses, or pain. The words of New Creed reminded us that “In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are not alone.”
During the weekly conversations with colleagues from Chinook Winds Region, I heard many times that people who seldom darkened the doors of church buildings now are eager to hear the good news: God cares, and hears when we reach out to the Holy One.
I experienced that even if we are ‘more advanced’ on our faith journey, we need to hear this encouragement time to time. To me, it is heartwarming that we have a God who knows that we need these affirming reminders of his/her love. One of my favorite Scripture passages is formulated by Isaiah: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (Isaiah 49:15)
As we try to live our lives in this changed world; as we look for new ways of keeping in touch with our families and friends; as we try to worship and to live out our faith, this encouragement is for us: “The LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him.” (Deuteronomy 4:7)
May this good news provide us with strength and motivation each and every day!
Grace and Peace to You All,
Right Beside You
The Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him.
Each day at a post office in Jerusalem, workers sort through piles of undeliverable letters in an attempt to guide each to its recipient. Many end up in a specially marked box labeled “Letters to God.”
About a thousand such letters reach Jerusalem each year, addressed simply to God or Jesus. Puzzled by what to do with them, one worker began taking the letters to Jerusalem’s Western Wall to have them placed between its stone blocks with other written prayers. Most of the letters ask for a job, a spouse, or good health. Some request forgiveness, others just offer thanks. One man asked God if his deceased wife could appear in his dreams because he longed to see her again. Each sender believed God would listen, if only He could be reached.
The Israelites learned much as they journeyed through the wilderness. One lesson was that their God wasn’t like the other gods known at the time—distant, deaf, geographically bound, reached only by lengthy pilgrimage or international mail. No, “the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him” (Deuteronomy 4:7). What other people could claim that? This was revolutionary news!
God doesn’t live in Jerusalem. He’s close by us, wherever we are. Some still need to discover this radical truth. If only each of those letters could be sent the reply: God is right beside you. Just talk to Him. – By Sheridan Voysey
REFLECT & PRAY
God, You are bigger than the universe yet closer than a breath. Thank You for being so interested in us, attending to every prayer. Amen.
God’s accessibility to us is a profound gift. How can you avoid taking it for granted? Who in your life needs to know of God’s readiness to hear their prayer?
Deuteronomy 4:5-8 comes just after Moses has recounted the greatest disappointment of his long life. God prevented Moses from entering the Promised Land because of how he mishandled his anger with the people (3:23-27; also Numbers 20:1-13). Despite his grief, Moses continued to serve God by advising His people even as he transitioned power to Joshua. Here Moses emphasizes the distinctiveness of Israel. “What other nation is so great?” he asks rhetorically (Deuteronomy 4:7-8). After all, God had chosen this nation to be His treasured possession (see Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 14:2; 26:18).
Those who follow Jesus are also treasured by God and set apart for Him. Peter reminds us, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession” (1 Peter 2:9). – By Tim Gustafson
Used with permission