Daily Lenten Devotional – March 19, 2020

To the Church in Exile,

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today’s meditation is from Danielle Merseles: 

A week ago many of us woke up to a new reality. It was the first day of closure for Seattle Public Schools and, for many of us, the first day of this new way of life. I don’t know about you, but the week has felt long and disorienting. The losses – big and small – are everywhere. The world feels out of control and our old way of life is no longer. It happened suddenly and we didn’t get a choice. But today we wake up and find ourselves in this new reality again. This morning I found myself reading the lectionary text for today in Ephesians 4. Paul is writing to the church in Ephesus, encouraging them to take on a new life. I imagine the church of Ephesus felt disoriented and lost some things, too. 

The Message translation of Ephesians 4:24 describes an “entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces God’s character in you.” 

Yes, this is an entirely new way of life. What has felt new to you this week? For me, it was the new way of connecting with people. As an extreme extrovert, my old life consisted of connections all day long with people for my work here at Bethany and in my personal life. Seeing people looks so different now. They are on screens, their faces in boxes which serve as little windows into their worlds. There is no shared meal or coffee, and no hug goodbye. It’s change, and not one I’ve been pleased to welcome.

Ephesians 4: 25-32 (The Message) continues:  “What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself. Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life. Did you used to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can’t work. Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.”

This new way of life includes loving people well – through truth telling, words of compassion, and radical forgiveness. This new way of life includes a new reality of connectedness. “In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other after all.”  Today, as these new realities seem hard, remind ourselves why social distancing has become our new pastime. It’s so we can love one another well. Our actions have an impact on those around us. We are all connected and need one another to move into the realities of this new life. Is it hard? Yes. It’s hard for you, your kids, your parents, your friends, your co-workers, your grocery clerks, your Amazon delivery person, your neighborhood small business owner, your relative in a retirement home.  Be gentle with each of them, knowing that this new life involves grief and disappointment in so many ways.

We are all connected to each other.

Jesus – Meet us this day. Remind us that we are not alone, even in our social distancing. Remind us that you provide everything we need. Remind us to be gentle with ourselves and with others. Give us eyes to see who needs guidance, encouragement, and hope today. May we be reminded that we are connected to one another, to your body of Christ, and may we act as beacons of your love to our communities. Give us patience, make us quick to forgive, and use our words to build up one another. May we be people who are abundantly generous, empathetic, and encouraging. Jesus, we need your comfort in the midst of the uncertainties of this new life. You are a God of restoration, and may you restore our hope today.  Amen.

Peace in Christ,

Danielle Merseles
Associate Pastor of Youth & Young Adults

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