Daily Devotional – April 30, 2020

To the Church in Exile,

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

Right before the ‘stay home’ order became our reality, I took my friend’s kids on a sunny day outing to one of my favorite Seattle places – the Olympic Sculpture Park.  I stood near the Wake sculpture, giving a lengthy reflection on Richard Serra’s focus on the relationship between sculpture, viewer, and site to these elementary schoolers.  They spent more time running around the massive steel playing tag than really listening to my brilliant words.  Go figure.  Luckily my role as a youth pastor has prepared me for interruptions about when game time will begin.

Serra was a big influence in my thesis project in 2007.  After I graduated that May, I drove my car full of belongings to Seattle, moved them into an apartment in Eastlake, and got on a plane to New Jersey to see my younger sister graduate high school.  While there, a new exhibit opened at MoMA on the work of Richard Serra.  I literally spent an entire day there – my last full day on the east coast before getting on a red-eye to start life in Seattle.  I walked around Sequence over and over, soaking up the audio guide, making notes in the remaining pages of my thesis sketchbook.

Life feels like being in the middle of one of Serra’s sculptures back at 22 years old and on that sunny day recently at the Sculpture Park.  Suddenly, as you enter, your view of your surroundings changes.  You don’t know where you are going, or how much longer it will take to get there.  You simply have the decision to keep going or not.  The light changes. It’s disorienting.

I always find myself in the midst of a Serra turning my posture upward.  The ceiling or the sky above me doesn’t waver.  It’s still up there no matter what direction the walls of the sculpture force me to turn, or what view they obscure.  But the vast sky is still above, reminding me that I am just going through a journey in an uncertain place.  [When you get out of the stay at home order… I encourage you to go to OSP and walk through the Serra over and over looking around each time.  Bring children you know.  Play tag!]

This pandemic journey is reframing so many things for each of us.  It’s called our attention to our relationships, our health, our financial worries, our homes, our definition as a society of the word essential.  Suddenly we can’t be close enough to one another to play tag.  It makes me feel like I was plunked down in the middle of a Serra sculpture without any idea how to journey through it.

Today’s lectionary text comes from 1 Peter 2 which I love:  “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people,in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

Why do I love these two verses?  They are simple reminders of big truth.  No matter what uncertain, disorienting Serra sculpture you are navigating through right now where the space of your life looks different, may you hear those words of Peter (and the prophet Hosea!)…

It’s all about who you are: chosen, not by where you are or what you have done, but all because of the grace of God.

It’s all about what you are called to do: to proclaim or tell the story of who God is, to you, in your life.  Your story matters. Your journey matters.

It’s all about the transformation that comes from following Jesus.  Once you didn’t receive mercy, but now you do.  Jesus offers transformation even in the most uncertain spaces. Jesus offers presence throughout, the secure sky above as you walk through it.  You leave the sculpture with your perspective changed.  There is transformation on the journey – but the sky, the presence of Jesus, is constant throughout.

My friends, may you enter this day with the wonder of a 22 year old in her favorite art museum.  May you tell the honest truth about what you are noticing on your journey.  May you remember that transformation is disorienting and difficult.  May you also remember that you have received mercy and your call as you see others on this journey is to remind them that the sky is still above.

May there be moments of blue sky for you today.

In Christ, 


Danielle Merseles
Associate Pastor of Youth & Young Adults
Bethany Presbyterian Church

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