Honor and Authority

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother.

 

What does this mean?

We are to fear and love God so that we neither despise nor anger our parents and others in authority, but instead honor, serve, obey, love, and respect them.

 

If there was one commandment that my confirmation teacher loved above any other, it was this one. She was determined that we, the sixth graders of the congregation, would learn to respect our elders, by which she meant that we should never question or challenge them, never disobey or disagree with them, and certainly never do anything that would lead witnesses to ask if we were raised in a barn. 

Since we usually teach the Ten Commandments to children, it isn’t exactly surprising that the focus of this commandment has been on telling kids to listen to whatever their parents tell them.* It’s certainly not wrong to teach children to obey their parents, but is that really all this commandment has to offer?

I certainly don’t think so. After all, the commandment is “honor” not “obey” your parents. It also doesn’t have a footnote directing it only to people under age 18. Consider this situation: an adult notices their parent’s health decline. That adult could sweep in, take charge, and make decisions without consulting their parent’s wants or needs. That adult could instead do nothing, with the justification that it’s not their job to take care of their parents. Alternatively, that adult could talk to their parent, find out what’s most important for them in their health and dignity, and work together to find a solution that works for everyone. Which one honors the parent?

Martin Luther took his understanding of the fourth commandment one big step further: not only should Christians honor, serve, obey, love and respect their parents, but they should extend the same consideration to all authorities. Now, we know from history that Martin Luther very often disagreed with authority figures. Respect and love don’t mean we never disagree, but that we do so in ways that treat others as equally deserving of consideration, respect, and dignity. 

Any time we speak to or about an authority, whether that person is a public official, a subject matter expert, or an institutional leader, we should ask ourselves: am I honoring this person in my actions and words? Or am I despising and demeaning them because I dislike them or what they represent? These are questions that apply just as much (or maybe more!) to adults as to children.

One final note on this commandment: the command to honor parents and those in authority carries with it a reminder to parents and other authority figures to be worthy of honor, to give good rules, to be loveable. All of us fail in one way or another, at one time or another, both in being honorable and giving honor. Even so, we strive to keep God’s commandment, knowing that it is good for all of us when we honor our parents.

Heavenly Father, you give us parents and other authorities in our lives. Help us to honor them as you have commanded us. Help us who are parents or authorities over others to live lives worthy of honor. Graciously forgive us when we fall short of this commandment. Amen.
 

*When I teach this commandment, I remind kids that they do not need to obey their parents if it puts them or others in danger. This is true for adults, too: if a person in a position of power commands something that is wrong, it is not appropriate to obey them. Your wellbeing is important to God.



Remember the Sabbath

This devotion, written by Grace Heimerdinger-Baake, Director of Youth and Family Ministry, is the third of a series on the Ten Commandments.

The Third Commandment

Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. 

What does this mean? 

We are to fear and love God, so that we do not despise preaching or God’s word, but instead keep that word holy and gladly hear and learn it.

-The Small Catechism, Martin Luther
 

“I’ve got a big test to study for on Monday, I am going to workout on Tuesday, confirmation is on Wednesday, practice on Thursday, Friday is Ankeny vs Ankeny basketball games, Saturday is all day Show Choir and I have Driver’s Ed on Sunday.” 

This is an absurd schedule, but it is not an abnormal schedule for our youth. What does your schedule look like? Is every minute scheduled to be as productive as possible? My schedule is about as absurd as the one I shared. Too often we wear the badge of “busy” on our chest as a gold star that proves we are worthy, but is our worth equivalent to everything we can accomplish in a week? 

I don’t think so. 

When God was creating the earth, God had a pretty busy schedule too. God created the earth in six days, but did something just as important on Day 7.  God rested. Did God really need to rest after forming the earth and all its creatures? No! God didn’t have to rest after creating the earth, but God knew that we humans do. Rest is essential for us to survive and thrive, but often we find ourselves sacrificing rest for work, relationships, and entertainment. God rested on the seventh day to give us rest, so that we can be refreshed, renewed, and ready to go out and share Jesus with the world. 

The gift of the sabbath gives us the opportunity to live out our baptismal promises. We are called to live in community, hear the word of God, share in the Lord’s supper, proclaim the Good News, serve all people as an example of Jesus, and strive for justice and peace. The sabbath also reminds us to let others rest: to accept and give “no” for an answer. 

God was intentional in giving us the sabbath, so let’s thank God for this gift by remembering to pause and spending time in hearing and learning God’s word. 

 

  



A First-name Basis

This devotion, written by Pastor Beth Wartick, is the second of a series on the Ten Commandments.

 

The Second Commandment

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God.

 

What does this mean?

We are to fear and love God, so that we do not curse, swear, practice magic, lie, or deceive using God’s name, but instead use that very name in every time of need to call on, pray to, praise, and give thanks to God.

 

Several years ago, I saw my fourth and fifth grade teacher for the first time in more than a decade. I cheerfully greeted her: “Hi Mrs. Tjeerdsma!” She replied, “Beth, you’re an adult. Call me Tamara.” The part of my brain that remembered being ten years old in her classroom froze up. Were we on a first-name basis? Could I really call this adult (whom I remembered as a monumentally influential teacher) Tamara? It turns out that I could. It would have been disrespectful as a child in her classroom to call her by her first name, but as an adult, she offered me equality on a first-name basis.

Incredibly, God offers us relationship on a first-name basis. God knows our names, and we know God’s. Of course, being on a first-name basis doesn’t automatically prevent us from using God’s name disrespectfully. That’s why God gave the second commandment: that we should not misuse God’s name.

Now, when I was in middle school learning the commandments in my confirmation class, my pastor was very insistent that the second commandment meant we should never, under any circumstances, say God’s name unless it was a prayer. We were not to cry “Oh my God!” in surprise or mutter “Jesus Christ!” when we stubbed a toe. And he expanded this prohibition to include certain other vocabulary words, which I will not print here.

But look again at Martin Luther’s explanation of the second commandment: we are not to curse, swear, practice magic, lie, or deceive using God’s name. In other words, the misuse of God’s name is primarily found in activities that attempt to manipulate the world or people around us in God’s name. God is far, far less concerned with the vocabulary we choose than with the way we use it toward other people.

It’s a misuse of God’s name to declare “as God is my witness” and then lie. Saying “God damn you” to someone is wrong because we’re attempting to use God’s power to place ourselves in judgment over someone else’s soul. Using God to frighten, guilt trip, or coerce someone is the wrong way to use God’s name. Imagine learning that someone who was on a first-name basis with you had used that relationship to hurt or manipulate someone else. No wonder the God who chooses a first-name basis with us also instructs us to carefully use God’s name for prayer and praise, not manipulation or deceit.

It is a great gift to be on a first-name basis with God. With that gift comes responsibility: that we use God’s name for good, just as the second commandment bids us.



You Shall Have No Other Gods

This devotion, written by Pastor Beth Wartick, is the first of a series on the Ten Commandments.

 

The First Commandment

You shall have no other gods.

What does this mean?

We are to fear, love, and trust God above all things.

-The Small Catechism, Martin Luther

God is exclusive. I don’t mean that God is picky about who gets to be a child of God. The only qualification for forgiveness is to be a sinner, and we’ve all got that going on. I mean that when God commits to us, promising to be our God—the God who is for us, who forgives and loves and restores us—it’s not an open relationship. “You shall have no other gods.” In Martin Luther’s words, there shall be nothing and no one that we fear, love, and trust above God. There shall be nothing and no one that we long for or revere or value above God. God is exclusive.

For the ancient Israelites, the idols that tempted them were often in the form of what we’d call actual false gods. Like Asherah, the Canaanite goddess of motherhood and fertility, or Baal, the Canaanite god of storms. Understandably, the Israelites were sometimes tempted to worship those false gods as well as the true God. Why not make an offering to Baal for good weather to nourish the crops and say a prayer to Asherah for a safe delivery along with the annual temple offering for God? Would God really expect them to come through life without a backup plan?

Yes, apparently. God insisted on being their one and only God, not vying for love and trust with idols.

The thing about idols is that they usually come in the form of something that is actually quite good, as long as it’s in proper relationship to God and humans. That’s what makes false gods so tempting. Good weather is great; it was only when the Israelites began to worship Baal in hopes of getting it that it became an idol. Family, financial stability, career success, happiness, health, security, education, and more; they can be good gifts used and valued properly. They can also very easily become idols. 

Three thousand years ago, the Israelites had a problem with idolatry of Baal and Asherah. Right now, Americans have a problem with idolatry of normal. 

If things were only back to normal, we have sighed. We have longed for normal, even if it is a new normal. We have prayed for normal. We have wept for loss of normal. We have hoped that back to normal will resolve all our problems, or at least the big ones. We have loved normal more than we have loved our neighbors. We have trusted normal more than we have trusted God.

Normal doesn’t have to be an idol. If we put normal back in its place, recognizing that it cannot and will not save us or our institutions, including our church, then normal will stop being a false god. We’ll recognize that normal has a time and place: predictable routine can be good! It is not, however, God. God is exclusive. Only God is to be loved and trusted and longed for and revered above all else.

The thing about idols, including normal and all the others, is that they don’t just hurt our relationship with God. They also hurt us. If we expect our false gods to be God, they will always let us down. That’s why God is exclusive: because God knows that only God can love, forgive, and stand by us always.

Don’t join in the idolatry of normal. Normal won’t save you. God will. For that matter, normal doesn’t care if you’re saved at all. God does. God loves you, and so God has commanded: you shall have no other gods. Only God, and God is enough.

 



Justice

[Jesus said],

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

    because he has anointed me

        to bring good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives

    and recovery of sight to the blind,

        to let the oppressed go free,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

-Luke 4:18-19
 
Those are the first public words of Jesus’ ministry recorded in Luke’s gospel. The words are quoted from the prophet Isaiah.  They form a sort of mission statement. They tell us and all who read them that Jesus has a purpose, and he knows exactly what it is. He is anointed by the Holy Spirit (remember that dove at his baptism) specifically to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. All of his ministry throughout the rest of the gospel of Luke fits into these few sentences.
 
And the hometown folks of Nazareth try to throw him off a cliff because of it.
 
I’m not kidding. Grab your Bible or open up a web browser and search for Luke 4. Almost immediately, the people listening turn from speaking well of him to dragging him out of town, to the top of a nearby cliff, intending to throw him down the rocky precipice. Even though these are the people who watched Jesus grow up, even though it is the Sabbath and dragging anybody to the top of a cliff counts as work, even though they have been sitting in worship listening to God’s word, the people of Nazareth set out to reject Jesus as thoroughly as possible.
 
I am reminded of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday was observed on Monday. Though he is now recognized as a necessary, faithful, and prophetic voice for justice, in his lifetime he was viewed with suspicion and hostility. In 1966, as his advocacy for racial and economic justice and his bold critique of America’s failure to live up to its values drew more attention, he had a 63% disapproval rating according to Gallup polls. He’s much more popular now dead than he ever was alive. The same could be said of Jesus.
 
Just like the people of Nazareth were used to hearing the prophetic words of Isaiah as history addressed to somebody else, many of us have gotten familiar with MLK’s words as addressed to other people. Like many of you, I’ve seen the movie Selma, read the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” and watched the “I Have a Dream” speech. These words and events are presented as history, which of course they are. They are also timeless and prophetic: “hate cannot drive out hate… injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere… any law that degrades human personality is unjust.” Ring a bell?
 
It’s always been easier to see injustice in the far away and long ago than in the here and now. As people of faith longing for justice, whom MLK called “people of good will,” it’s our responsibility to understand and recognize injustice. We know that there are people in our own communities, among the people with whom we work and worship and learn and play, who are longing to hear good news, to be set free from their burdens, to be released from their bonds. 
 
That’s why Jesus came. For good news to the poor, for release from captivity, for recovery of sight, for freedom from oppression, for God’s favor to transform every life weight down by sin and injustice. People like MLK and like you and me are called by the same Holy Spirit, anointed in our baptisms to “work for justice and peace in all the world.” It’s not easy or popular, but it is our calling.
 

Holy Spirit, let me be faithful to your call to work for justice and peace in all the places and people I influence. Amen.

 


Encanto

This week’s devotion is written by Grace Heimerdinger-Baake, Director of Youth and Family Ministry

The movie Encanto has been on replay since Christmas Eve when it became available on Disney+. Encanto is a story of a magical family, the Madrigals, whose magical powers came through the sacrificial gift of their father’s love. That power and light provides a home for them, protects them and their village, and gifts each of the family members with unique and miraculous powers.

Except for one.

Mirabel doesn’t have a superpower, but she loves her family, and she loves her home, and she would do anything to protect it. When the walls start to crack, the candle starts to flicker,  it’s up to Mirabel to find a way to keep her home and her family together. Mirabel might just be her miraculous family’s only hope. 

Every time I watch Encanto, I see something new. The theme I have appreciated the most is the uniqueness of worth of each and every being. The Madrigals, other than Mirabel, use their magic to help their community to keep growing and turning as that is what they believe keeps the magic burning. Contrary to appearances, the Madrigals were far from the perfect family. 

Spoiler Alert! Sometimes the most powerful power or gift is the power of love and support. Mirabel’s love and support for her family is what saves their family. As the Casita cracks and crumbles to the ground, the family begins to realize the magic they received wasn’t actually the miracle. The miracle was their family and their community. Encanto concludes with the town coming together and helping the Madrigals build their new home. The town people, the common person, is who helped rebuild the Casita. Every person is important. Every person makes this world turn. 

As the movie concluded for the hundredth time, I was reminded of Paul’s letters to the people of Corinth. In Paul’s letter to Corinthians, he hoped the words he would share would heal the division that was created as the people thought some of the spiritual gifts were superior to other gifts. Paul writes, “The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.” (1 Corinthians 12:25-26 MSG)

God has created each and everyone of us so fearfully and wonderfully (Psalm 139:14) and has given us our own unique gifts and talents (1 Peter 4:10-11) for us to share God’s love. Depending what your gifts are, your way of sharing God’s love will look different than your neighbor. 

Gracious God, you have so fearfully and wonderfully created me. Help me to use the gifts you have given me to share your light and love in this world. Amen.  


 



Epiphany

On January 6, we remember a tyrant who would stop at nothing to hold onto power. A man whose tenuous grip on control led him to lash out and hurt anyone who stood in his way. We remember him because January 6 is Epiphany, and we cannot tell the story of the magi without telling the story of Herod.

Herod, called Herod the Great, is not a popular character in the Christmas story. I’ve only once seen him portrayed in a children’s pageant. Most churches neatly skip over “The Holy Innocents, Martyrs” on December 28 every year. 

Historically speaking, Herod oversaw the building of several impressive religious and military structures, including the still-standing Temple Mount. He had several wives, one of whom he executed, and more than a dozen children, three of whom he executed. (As a side note, one of his sons, also named Herod, was the ruler when Jesus was an adult. This Herod died a few years after Jesus was born.) Though Herod was obsessed with making a name for himself and leaving a legacy, he is remembered not for his accomplishments but for his ruthlessness and cruelty in achieving those goals.

In the Bible, we meet Herod as the king of Jerusalem when the magi arrived after the birth of Jesus. Herod’s rule depended in part on his ability to please Caesar, who could remove Herod from the throne. When these outlandish astrologers showed up, asking about a newborn king, it was bad news for Herod. Kings showing up unexpectedly, heralded by heavenly portents, well, that was the last thing Herod wanted. Not only was it a threat to his own rule to have another king, but it was a threat to Caesar. 

Threatened with the loss of his power, control, and way of life, Herod responds deceptively and decisively. He learns from the foreign stargazers that the star appeared some time earlier, and he asks them to tell him where he, too, can find this new king. When they do not, and he realizes he’s been duped, Herod is enraged. Matthew 2:16-18 tells how Herod ordered the slaughter of the boys aged two and under, and the resulting inconsolable lamentation.

Now, in the face of terrible evil, one very tempting response is to look away. Like I said, I’ve never seen Herod and the slaughter of the innocents portrayed in a Christmas pageant. Occasionally, we do need to look away from evil for the sake of our own spirit’s wellbeing. Mostly, though, we ignore evil because that’s easier than doing something about it. 

Another very tempting response is to point fingers. This historic, wicked king Herod sounds an awful lot like [insert your favorite love-to-hate leader]. To be clear, it is appropriate and necessary to discern whether or not our leaders are acting in ways that are godly. What’s problematic is when we use judgment of our opponents as a way to absolve ourselves of any responsibility, or when we substitute comparison with someone else’s sin for confession of our own.

Be honest. When your life seems out of control, when you feel threatened, when you realize you are losing power, how do you react? Do you gracefully adapt, flawlessly pivot, peacefully release what you’ve lost, and trust God above all else? Yeah, me neither. Do you snatch desperately at anything that you can control, lash out at people who inconvenience or disagree with you, and (literally or figuratively) stomp your feet in frustration? Wellllllll…

Rather than give into the temptation to look away or point fingers, Epiphany calls us to faithfully follow wherever God leads, even if it leads us to strange places and stranger travelling companions. Epiphany dares us to release our deathgrip on control so we can hold onto God instead.

This Epiphany, let the story of the Magi and Herod and the Holy Innocents remind not to turn your eyes from evil, either your own or in the world around you. Let it also remind you that from the very beginning, Jesus has taken away our control, our power, and our way of life. In return, he gives forgiveness, reconciliation, and everlasting life. 

 



Christmas Traditions

But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
who are one of the little clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to rule in Israel,
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient days.
-Micah 5:2
 
In the not very little town of Bethlehem, in the middle of crowded streets filled with souvenir shops and falafel restaurants, is a grand white stone building, the Church of the Nativity. It’s big enough to hold three monasteries AND four cathedral-like worship spaces. It holds the distinction of being the longest continuously used worship site in Christianity. Most importantly of all, it sits atop a small network of caves.
 
Bethlehem is in the hill country, where the landscape is dotted with caves created when the soft rock was eroded away by water. Because the soil is rocky and dry, the vegetation is not what we’d consider impressive: mostly shrubs and grasses, with small olive trees scattered here and there. With very little in the way of wood and an abundance of small natural caves, the historic residents of Bethlehem used the caves to house their livestock. The caves provided a ready-made shelter. Most were just big enough for a single family’s sheep or goats, with only one way in or out. As a bonus, because the caves were insulated by the surrounding hillside, they stayed fairly temperate all year round.
 
It was in one of these caves that Mary and Joseph found themselves when Jesus was born. I know, I know, all the traditional pictures we have show a stable– but, like I said, there wasn’t enough wood to waste any of it on a building for animals. Instead, in a rock-hewn manger in a cave, Mary laid her baby.
 
It is atop that cave and several others that the Church of the Nativity is built. The network of caves is accessible by several narrow staircases from within the church. Each cave is distinct, with artwork, engravings, and altars throughout.
The cave that most impressed me when I visited was very simple. There is a white stone altar covered with a white cloth. On either side, the altar is flanked by square blocks forming two columns. Each block has a Latin inscription. These words correspond to each of the verses of the hymn “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” The carvings are very old, made at least a thousand years ago. The words of that hymn have been prayed for more than 1400 years. It’s a common tradition to pray or sing the verses one by one on the days leading up to Christmas.
 
It is easy for me to forget how old our faith is. Around here, even the longest-established churches are no more than two hundred years old. Of course, it doesn’t take a thousand years to establish a tradition. Just a few years can be enough.
 
This time of year is full of traditions, in church and in family. Some are rich with meaning. Some feel like burdensome obligations. Some can be traced back to the beginning. Some appeared without anybody being quite sure where they came from. Some are simple. Some are complex. All traditions were once new, and all traditions eventually come to an end. The best traditions are the ones that deepen our faith, connecting us with God and one another.
 
As we draw near to Christmas Eve, consider the traditions you follow. Which are most meaningful? Are there any that have served their purpose and can be ended? If there are traditions that need to end, let them go gracefully. Is there something new that needs to begin?
 
Whatever your traditions may be, may they deepen your faith this Christmas. Whether they are new or old, may your traditions connect you more firmly with the ancient one who came as our newborn king.
 
Merry Christmas.


We Need a Little Christmas

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined. -Isaiah 9:2

One of my favorite secular Christmas songs is “We Need A Little Christmas,” originally from the 1966 musical Mame. I prefer the Angela Lansbury recording, but Idina Menzel’s version will do in a pinch. In the musical, the character Mame has lost her fortune and decides that the best way to cope is to throw herself into Christmas, even though it’s weeks too early by any reasonable standard. The song has been popular for half a century since its debut, perhaps in part because we’ve all had the experience of longing for a bit of Christmas joy when life seems joyless. We know what it’s like to need a little Christmas.

The days and nights of December can be truly difficult for so many people. For those impacted by seasonal affective disorder, the long nights and lack of sunlight can lead to depression. For those who are far from home, seeing others go home for the holidays can leave them feeling more alone than ever. For those who have experienced loss, the special days can feel like painful reminders of what and who they’re missing.

And even if there’s no reason you can put your finger on, you might still find yourself having a bit of a blue Christmas. Especially this year, with so many expectations of deferred joy from last Christmas, it may be that you’re feeling a little let down by a holiday season that’s just okay. Or it may be that you’ve once again canceled or modified your plans in response to the local plateau in covid-19 cases, and who wouldn’t feel blue about that? Maybe you’re just frustrated that instead of a winter wonderland, the landscape is brown and bare.

Whatever your reason for needing a little Christmas joy, you are not alone. The holly, jolly Christmas mood doesn’t just arrive with a turn of the calendar or the first snowfall. In the bleak midwinter, in the midst of what’s going on in our real lives, we may find ourselves longing for that Christmas feeling without any idea how to get it. Like the people Isaiah prophesied to, we might be stumbling along in the darkness, longing for light.

But the thing about God’s light? That light shines on the people without their having done anything to make it shine. The light of God shines bright when our world is draped in shadows. If you are in darkest night, be comforted: God’s light still shines on you. The light of Christ is not so easily put out.

This Christmas, look for God’s light where it can always be found: in the child in the manger. In Jesus Christ, the light shines so bright that no darkness can overcome it. It is a light so small it could be contained in an infant, and yet a light so grand it fills all the world.

When you find yourself walking in darkness, look to Jesus, the light of the world. He will bring you light.

Jesus Christ, light of life, shine in my life when deep darkness looms. Turn my eyes to see your light, turning the long night to brightest day. Amen.



Advent Calendars

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. – Hebrews 13:8

We have a tradition in my family of getting Lego Advent calendars every year. Technically, they’re Christmas countdown calendars, since they have a door to open for each day from December 1 to 24. Behind each door is a mini Lego set and instructions to build it. This year, the calendar is Harry Potter-themed. Of course, since it’s Lego, it’s not enough to have a broad theme—this year’s calendar seems to be showing off aspects of the first book and the very first time Harry traveled to Hogwarts, the magical school. Every day, we discover something new that fills in more of the story.

It’s been a week since we started the calendar, and still every single day my kids ask, “Can we open the next door early? What do you think will be in it? Can we find out soon?” Every single day I respond, “We’ll have to wait and see what happens tomorrow when we open the next one.”

Even though it’s been only a week and there are seventeen doors left to go, we’ve figured out the theme very clearly. Though the details are missing, the story is clear: this set of Legos is telling the story of the first few chapters of the first Harry Potter book. We don’t know exactly what will happen over the next two weeks, but we’ve got a pretty good idea from the way it started.

Our lives as Christians are often similar, aren’t they? After even a short time as a Christian, we can see the theme of God’s work in our lives: repentance and forgiveness, the guidance and gifts of the Holy Spirit, the new life we receive in Jesus Christ, the responsibility we have to love and care for each other. The longer we follow Jesus, the more clearly we see how God has acted in our lives and remains faithful into the future. Our lives change, as each new door opens— but whatever is behind the door, God is with us.

It’s more than that God is with us, though. When I look at the last week’s Lego Advent surprises, I see the beginning of Harry Potter’s journey to Hogwarts. When I look back at the decades of my life, I see ways that God was working. Seemingly disconnected events and people are part of a bigger story of God’s transforming grace. And even though I sometimes wish I could look ahead into what’s coming behind the next door, all I can do is take it one day at a time.

In this season of Advent, it is good to be reminded that although our futures may not be clear, our faith is. Jesus Christ is the same in our yesterdays, and today, and in all the days to come.

 

Dear Jesus, even when the doors in my life hold uncertainty, remind me that you are always faithful and present, and that you are working for good in my life. Amen.