Today's Lectionary Text
even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh.
If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.
Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christand the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal;but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.
I am writing these words on March 1, 2019 — three days after the General Conference session in St. Louis. This last week has felt like a roller coaster of emotions: the anticipation and anxiety which led up to the meeting, the alternating sensations of hope, anger, joy, despair and frustration I felt while watching the livestream, and then the exhaustion, disappointment and confusion as the session closed without a satisfying resolution. And in the three days since, the emotional tsunami continued as friends and loved ones poured out their grief on social media and as denominational leaders made official statements and mulled over options for the future.
It hasn’t been easy, to say the least, and I hope that things will be feeling a little less chaotic and unmoored by the time you’re reading this devotional. And no matter what the following weeks, months and years have in store for the people called United Methodist, my fervent prayer is that we will remember the promise which Paul makes in Philippians; the promise which is echoed in the hymn lyrics above.
No matter what circumstances we face, Jesus Christ is Lord.
We are not alone when we suffer — God is with us.
We belong to Jesus Christ, our hope and our refuge.
We have been called, named, and claimed by the One who loves us more than we can fathom.
My friends in the Great Plains Annual Conference, as you recover from General Conference and as you make your way through the season of Lent, I hope you will incline your ear to the voice that whispers these promises. Do not be afraid. I am with you. You are Mine. Each and every one of us is called “Beloved” by the Creator of the universe. Each and every one of us has sacred worth in the eyes of God. And God will continue to walk this road with us as we press on toward the goal; as we journey through the wilderness; as we make our way through the darkness of the tomb into the light of resurrection and new life.
-Rev. Emily Spearman Cannon
Auburn First UMC, NE
Prayer for Reflection
Gracious God, lover of our souls, you speak words of comfort and courage when we grow weary. Embolden our hearts and spirits as we press on toward the goal, and remind us that we do not walk this road alone. Amen.
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