Great Plains Daily Devotional for 3/20/2021

Today please be in prayer for

Neil Kloppenborg
Benedict UMC
Polk UMC
Stromsburg: First UMC
Prairie Rivers District
Natalie Faust
Superior First UMC
Prairie Rivers District
Mary Scott
Sutton Federated Church
Prairie Rivers District
Mina Nutter
Waco UMC
Prairie Rivers District

Today's Lectionary Text

John 3:14-21

And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”

Today's Devotional

In 2018, I sat in a darkened theater to watch the penultimate move in the Marvel movies Avengers series. In what felt as the ultimate To Be Continued I watched as the villain snapped his fingers and half the world’s population disappeared into dust. It was a sheer numbers game with no discrimination or weighty decision making. Half the population gone. Many of us walked out of the theater stunned not knowing what would happen next, knowing it would be a year away until we found out what happened and if the Avengers could bring those people back.

Today it seems almost an eerie foreshadowing of the events of 2020. Loved ones taken from us, some already in poor health and others healthy that have succumbed to the virus. Others surviving but with long-term effects that we are still learning about. We don’t have the hope that the sequel brought when those turned to dust were returned to a world that had continued to go on for the time they were gone.
We are much more like those who had to go on. We have fear, sadness, angst and all the many layers of emotion that come from living through something traumatic. Likely we have been living similar emotions our ancestors have lived through the previous Spanish Flu pandemic, polio pandemic, or a many other illnesses that has swept across time and continents.

Or maybe we are like the disciples after Good Friday. Swept up in their grief for Jesus they huddled and wondered what comes next? We are still in the middle of this time, but we see glimmers of hope with a vaccine and the coming availability to all. We see other nations grappling with second and third waves and pray that the vaccine will allow us to go to gatherings safely, see those we have missed during this time apart, and get back to the new normal.

During this time of Lent, we are encouraged to reflect on our habits and those things that take us farther from God, to develop new ones that bring us closer to God and to think on them when we return to a post Easter Sunday normal. I think we know by now that normal is only a setting on the washing machine.

We don’t know what life looks like when this has passed. We are in the in between, glimpsing the trailer for the next stage but not having full knowledge of what comes in the next installment. We are in that uncomfortable in between. We are in the same space the disciples were between Good Friday and Easter.

We are uneasy, we are uncomfortable, things are changing, and we are not ready for it and we can’t see what lies ahead. This is the place that faith blooms and grows. I wish that it could happen in comfort, in softness and in ease but it is not. It’s in these hard places when we look within and assess what needs to be rooted out of our lives that we make space for Christ in us.

Superhero movies are great because, generally at the end good has won, evil has been vanquished and we can walk out of the theater feeling like everything is right with the world. I think Marvel gave us a taste of the world to come when we walked out of that theater without answers, without a clean-cut happy ending. We had to wait a year for the resolution, we had to wait in that discomfort.

As we wait in discomfort for the coming of Easter and the end of the pandemic may we examine those places in us that need to be cleared out, priorities shifted and make room for the risen Christ to dwell within us.
-Lisa Soukup
Communications administrative assistant
lsoukup@greatplainsumc.org

Prayer for Reflection

Heavenly Father, thank you for sitting with us in the discomfort. Help us to cut away those dead things in our hearts that need to be removed so that you have room to dwell within us.
 
 

 

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