Growing in Resilience
Based on Isaiah 55
Bonus Reflection: You Call, based on Isaiah 55:1-2, NRSV
Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.
Holy One of Israel
Your love is unfailing
Your mouth opens wide
Your hand opens wide
Your storehouse opens wide
Your heart opens wide
You call, “Come, children open your ears”
“Listen, receive the promises like food for they are life”
Come, Listen, Receive the Holy One
Receive the promises
Receive the call
Come, Listen, Receive
Let the Holy One make you glorious
Come, Listen, Receive, and Join the Call
Call to those you know
Call to those unknown
Call to family, friends, strangers
Call, “Come!” so they may come
and listen and receive
and be glorious
Growing in Resilience
Day 1, Read Isaiah 40
Reflection: Shall, based on Isaiah 40:3-5
A voice cries out:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
The time is now, for you have called
The place is now, for you have spoken
Yes, it is a wilderness, a desert even
So dry, so rough
Yes, the gap is so very wide between the high and the low
But, you have called
You have spoken
Not an if or when or maybe
Not even a try
You have spoken shall
Every valley shall be lifted
Every mountain shall be made low
The uneven shall be made level
The rough shall be made smooth
So we will persevere in this wilderness of preparing
We will not forge a path or blaze a trail but make a highway
A highway for your coming
For your glory, O God shall be revealed in this place
And all shall see it
All shall see it together
Extended quote from Ragamuffin Reflections by Brennan Manning
The prophet Jeremiah is a striking example of the Biblical paradox that surrender means victory, that in losing our life we find it. (Jesus Christ identifies with Jeremiah more than any other prophet and quotes him most frequently.) In the year 625 BC, the Lord summoned Jeremiah to a prophetic career. Jeremiah’s immediate response was reluctance. “Alas, Sovereign LORD,” he said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young” (Jeremiah 1:6). He was nineteen at the time. Jeremiah was not the confident, self-assured type like Amos or Isaiah. Sensitive, accustomed to the quiet of small-town life, he was temperamentally unsuited for public life and the harsh treatment that is the customary “reward of the prophets.”
Timid and afraid, Jeremiah had no ambition for such a mission. In no way did he want to preach God’s Word to his fellow Israelites. Nothing pleased him more than to be Mr. Nobody, ignored by the ruling clique of royal counselors and priests. How content he would have been to live in the tiny world of his own heart. And so he remonstrated with God, “Ah, Lord God. I am only a boy.” Each of us can sympathize, because Jeremiah is Everyman and Everywoman.
Take a Stand, a devotion inspired by Jeremiah 1:17-19 (NIV)
The words from scripture are found in regular type.
Get yourself ready! There are things God leaves up to you Your part of the preparation Prayer and study and silence Clearing out the crap so there’s space for what is coming
Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Rise now from the green pasture From the still waters of comfort and slumber Preparation leads to action Sanctuary to Taking a Stand
Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. God alone is God They do not deserve your reverence Your awe They are human Dust and ashes, just like you
Today I have made you a fortified city,
an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land –
against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. The call is beyond you So God makes you more than you Steadfast Enduring Rock and Refuge Living Stone Rejected in the Redeeming Like your Christ Your Jesus
They will fight But the battle is the Lord’s
They will fight against you but will not overcome you,
for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord.
On this same theme, consider also reading The Stream of Justice, a stirring encouragement to continue our efforts for peace, freedom, and justice. Written by Steve Garnaas Holmes for Martin Luther King remembrances and similar occasions.
Mason Wartman quit his job on Wall Street to open Rosa’s Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia. The menu includes a $1 slice of cheese pizza, which makes for a nice meal for the neighborhood’s low income and homeless folks.
A customer had the idea to “pay it forward” by purchasing an extra slice of pizza for the next person who couldn’t pay for theirs. Mason grabbed a post-it note, marked the gift, and put it up on the wall for someone to use. The idea exploded and now Rosa’s walls are covered with post-it notes of smiley faces, prayers, encouragement along with a slice of pizza.
Rosa’s serves 50-100 persons daily who pay by post-it note. The practice transformed the neighborhood, building goodwill and community, breaking down barriers of loneliness and classism. One person wrote a thank you note on a paper plate, which also went up on the wall,
“God bless you. Because of you, I ate off this plate. It is the only thing I ate all day. I am a homeless veteran and get treated rudely. When I ask for help, Rosa’s treats me with respect. Truly a blessing. Thank you. Rob H. Do unto others as others do unto you.”
Having, first, gained all you can, and, secondly saved all you can, then give all you can.
For Wesley, gain means to earn, to work. I suspect Mason’s shop brings a smile to Wesley’s face, and Jesus’.
Mason is modeling what we believe as followers of Jesus Christ about work:
Money itself is neither good nor evil and is used for both good and evil. Money is a powerful tool and gift of God
Wisdom is more valuable than money
A wise person is in right relationship with money
There is a meaningful connection between work, money, and faith
Work is good for us and the community we live in
If you’re retired, this applies to you as well. You’re just in a new season of work. Followers of Jesus never retire from Kingdom work.
Hard Honest Work
What makes a great employee or employer, the type of person you want to do business with? That person is diligent, attentive, responsible, put’s forth their best effort, strives for excellence and consistent improvement, is servant-hearted, passionate, self-motivated, a team player, teachable…
Wesley puts it this way
Never leave anything till tomorrow, which you can do today. And do it as well as possible. Do not sleep or yawn over it: Put your whole strength to the work. Spare no pains. Let nothing be done by halves, or in a slight and careless manner.
Where do we find this kind of integrity and work ethic today? It should be with the people of God. True followers of Jesus should be the folk’s people want to hire and the folk’s people want to work for and the folks people want to do business with. When we fail to live and value hard work, we fail in our Christian witness.
The Shadow-side of Hard Work: Underwork and Overwork (Lazy and Work-a-holic)
There is profit in hard work, but mere talk leads to poverty.
The lazy have strong desires but receive nothing; the appetite of the diligent is satisfied.
Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich; be smart enough to stop.
Imagine a continuum with healthy, hard work in the middle. On one end, laziness, and the other, work-a-holic. Strength and focus from the Holy Spirit save us from laziness. Sabbath saves us from destroying our bodies, minds, and relationships with overwork. In practicing Sabbath, we show we trust God’s strength and provision more than our own.
Hard Honest Work
These are the ways of all who seek unjust gain; it costs them their lives.
The wages of the righteous lead to life; the earnings of the wicked lead to sin.
It doesn’t matter how hard you work if you don’t also practice Sabbath. It doesn’t matter how hard you work if it isn’t honest work. Some jobs are out of bounds for us as followers of Christ.
The litmus test for honest work: Does it bring glory to God and does it bless and build up the community? Honest work is rooted in loving our neighbor. This value prevents us from work which does injury to our neighbor. Wesley reminds us that as followers of Christ we refrain from work that unfairly affects another’s economic stability, that injures our neighbor’s health, or that contributes to another person’s sin.
Hard Honest Work is your calling from God
If you are a follower of Jesus, you have a calling from God. Your calling is just as sacred and important as that of a pastor or missionary. Reframe your idea of work as fulfilling your part in God’s greater purpose, God’s best purpose for your life. Focus your talents, skills, opportunities, and experience for God’s greater good. This is our “why” of work. This is worth getting out of bed in the morning and worthy of our best efforts. This is why we don’t bury our talents, nor hide them under a bushel. This is why we don’t sell out to something unworthy of our calling and God.
Jim Harnish puts it this way
Seeing our work as a calling from God puts the challenge to “earn all you can” in the context of the larger purpose for our work. Wesley’s instruction is not merely to earn money for its own sake but to earn it for the higher purpose of fulfilling God’s intention for our lives.
Contemplate the example of hard, honest work in Proverbs 31:10-31.
I’m excited to now offer mp3’s of my Sunday messages. A huge thank you to Sean and my brothers and sisters at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota for all their help in making this possible. If you’re ever in Sarasota, please drop by for worship Sundays at 9am or 10:30am, or join us live on our Facebook page at 9am Sundays, or drop by during the week for a chat or small group. You and those you love are always welcome.
In the midst of our changing times
In the midst of our brokenness
Draw us again to your side
Call us and send us in your name
Give us the courage to travel light
To divest and downsize
And embrace the freedom that it brings
Give us the blessing of being fully present
Of trusting you for provision for ourselves
And your saving work
In the moment it is needed
Give us the wisdom to know our role
To move on from failure and rejection
To move on from accomplishment and welcome
The authority you give us does not dictate response
Nor is our faithfulness measured by the response
Ours is to go and to offer
To proclaim your deliverance and offer healing for body and soul
To proclaim your welcome and offer blessing no matter the location
To proclaim your repentance and offer your salvation and hope
We bow, humbly, before the honor of you choosing us
Grant us the authority and grace and strength we need
Send us forth to do your bidding
Yes that we are enough just as we are
Where we are
Yes to your calling
and the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon us to fulfill it
Yes to bearing and birthing
Your Word and your Promises and your Kingdom
in this time and place
Yes to all things being possible with you
Like our sister Mary we say
Here I am, the Lord’s humble servant
As you have said, let it be done to me
Like our sister Mary we sing and celebrate you
Our God, Our Liberator
For though we are your humble servants
You have noticed us
This affirmation is offered for all, but especially for those who lead God’s people during the holy-days of Christmas. It can be an weary and stressful time. It’s easy to miss the wonder and grace of God’s intimate presence with so much responsibility. The stakes feel sky high. Breathe, trust, receive brothers and sisters. The promises are for you as well.