Great Plains Daily Devotional for 9/23/2020

Today please be in prayer for

Elmont UMC
Topeka District
Elwood United Community Church
Topeka District
Grantville UMC
Topeka District
Hiawatha: First UMC
Topeka District

Today's Lectionary Text

Isaiah 35:1-7

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
    the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
    and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
    the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
    the majesty of our God.

Strengthen the weak hands,
    and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
    “Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
    He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
    He will come and save you.”

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
    and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
    and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
    and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
    the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

Today's Devotional

My first parish was on the edge of the Flint Hills, with vast grazing lands. It was the first place I encountered the practice of spring burning of the prairie. It never ceases to amaze me how within days of a burn, you can see delicate green blades of grass beginning to appear in the ashes. But those grassland burns have a dangerous side as well. I remember driving to a meeting at one of the churches one evening as flames lapped away at the edges of both sides of the road. It was eerie. And I remember thinking at the time that between the smoke and the flames, it could be quite a dangerous thing to be driving along there.

At that time, “fire season” in the western United States was hardly a blip on the news radar. So, I did not equate the experience of spring burning to forest fires. But now that “fire season” is a huge, destructive event that goes on for months at a time, I have been reminded of that long ago evening many times over.

The fires that today continue to rage throughout the western states are devastating in so many ways. Life, property, historical landmarks are being erased by the flames and the smoke. Much that is lost will never be recovered. Families are dealing with tragic loss.

But once these fires are snuffed out, nature will gradually bring new life to the ashes, just as has happened in the aftermath of other fires in years past. I remember visiting Yellowstone National Park a few years after the fire that destroyed many acres of forest there. The scars of the fire were still quite visible, but saplings were poking up from the forest floor, replacing the trees that had burned.

Isaiah’s words of promise to the exiles remind me of these things. God, through the prophet, offers hope of better things to come – of healing and restoration in a world that has been turned upside down for too long. We also live in an upside-down world. Whether it is natural disaster that plays havoc with our lives or a pandemic that keeps us from loved ones, activities we enjoy, and so-called “normal” life, it is difficult to see beyond the present.

Someday, the desert and the wilderness will bloom once more. Weak hands and unsteady knees will be strengthened. Panic and fear will be replaced with joy. God’s promise of renewal will come. All we need do is trust that the God who sent Jesus to show us the way of love still offers hope.

                                                                                      --Rev. Robbie Fall, retired Elder   
Hutchinson, Kansas

Prayer for Reflection

God of Renewal, remind us again that you hold out hope to us in all the difficult trials of life. Light a candle of hope in us that we may share that light with the world. Amen.


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