A Blameless Life

Fourth Sunday After Epiphany

SUNDAY, January 29
Psalm 15

Do you know anyone who walks blamelessly? Who does what is right? Who speaks truth from their heart? I do—many actually. Psalm 15 tells us what these kinds of people look and sound like. Their speech and conduct honor their neighbor and seek their good. Worship of God is practiced by means of loving and honoring people. There is no separation between the two, no ritualistic shortcut. 

One woman in particular has been a member of Monroe Covenant for decades. About 17 years ago she answered God’s call to serve the poor in our community. Today, the community resource center she founded serves hundreds of families with resources and relationships. She was recently honored for her service, and those who spoke about her said there is hardly a single person in our city who hasn’t been affected by her. Her life shines.

Holy Spirit, empower us to walk blamelessly, to do what is right, and to speak the truth from our hearts as an act of worship to you. AMEN.



What Does the Lord Require?

MONDAY, January 30
Micah 6:1-8

Why is it that we think God desires offerings or purity or rituals instead of lives devoted to love and compassion? Today’s passage says the Lord has told us what is good and what he requires of us—to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with him. This has always been God’s heart for his people and for the world. Can you imagine if you, your family, or your church were known for justice, kindness, and humility? What kind of witness would that be to God’s character and heart? Whose lives would be changed by Christians putting their time, talents, money, and affection into service of their neighbors in obedience to God’s commands? What if we were known for how we treat people rather than what we are against? 

God, give us your eyes and your heart, and help us to be your hands and feet in this world and among these people whom you love. AMEN.


A Ministry of Presence

TUESDAY, January 31
Matthew 5:1-5

Who comes to mind when you think of people who are Christ-like? For me, it’s a friend I’ve known for about 17 years. I met her in my early 20s when I was a newspaper reporter writing an article about the nonprofit coffee shop she founded in Seattle. We became friends, and when my abusive marriage ended, she gave me a place to live and invited me into community. Over the past decade or so, she has spent her days ministering to her unhoused neighbors, folks struggling with substance addictions, street-based sex workers, and even pimps, accompanying them in friendship and bridging them to resources when the time is right. She knows those who are poor in spirit. She knows those who mourn. She knows the meek, as she walks with them every day. And they are blessed, because of people like her who see them as human beings, full of dignity and worth.

Jesus, help us see your face in the face of the poor, the mourners, and the meek. Help us be a blessing to them and be blessed by them. AMEN.



A Taste for Shalom

WEDNESDAY, February 1
Matthew 5:6-7

Do you long for Jesus to set things right? Are you so hungry for an end to racism, exploitation, and greed that you can taste it? We say these words—“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled”—every Sunday during communion before we eat the bread and drink from the cup. We get a taste of this promise when we come to the table, but what will it be like to be filled? In the meantime, it seems that the blessing comes in the hunger. May we be ravenous for the kingdom of God, for the shalom that has been inaugurated by Christ’s coming.

Jesus, fill us up with yourself. Nourish us with your body so we have strength to join you in the arduous and wonderful work of repairing the world. AMEN.


Blessed Are the Peacemakers

THURSDAY, February 2
Matthew 5:8-9

Shalom is one of my favorite words. It carries so much weight and meaning—peace, well-being, wholeness, harmony. Those of us who understand ourselves to be children of God have the great privilege to participate in the shalom God is cultivating all around us. To me, this is what being a peacemaker means. When there is violence, oppression, brokenness, and discord, we get to throw our whole energy into finding ways to repair. There are countless ways to do this—racial reconciliation, creation care, poverty alleviation, gender equity—all of which put God’s heart for shalom on display and demonstrate his goodness to a world that desperately needs it. 

God, equip us to be peacemakers in our families, in our communities, in your church, and in the world you love. AMEN.



The Risk of Righteousness

FRIDAY, February 3
Matthew 5:10-12

Joining Christ in the work of shalom might put us at odds with the systems of the world. Our economy thrives on exploitation and consumption, but we are called to serve a different master. When the world says, “Take all you can get,” God says, “share,” and that’s not good for the bottom line. God calls us to dignify instead of dehumanize, protect instead of exploit, pursue smallness while eschewing fame, cherish diversity as opposed to conformity, practice radical inclusion in lieu of drawing lines, and sow love rather than competition. The powers and principalities will not like it. While we might experience persecution, we will also experience the kingdom of God, which is far better than anything the world can offer. Power, wealth, and status are a dim prize compared to God’s kingdom of shalom.

God, help us resist the temptations of the world that offer ease, glamour, and glory and instead to risk everything for your kingdom. AMEN. 


The Upside-Down Kingdom

SATURDAY, February 4
1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Christ on the cross turned the world upside down. Things that were considered powerful and wise were revealed to be weak and empty. Now it is the foolish things that have true power—small, everyday acts of love and kindness, standing in solidarity with the oppressed, crossing boundaries, practicing forgiveness. Monroe Covenant Church is made up of brothers and sisters who are not wise by human standards, not influential, not of noble birth. We are small and unpolished and have a laughable budget. There is nothing in our image to boast about, but the Holy Spirit called us into being in the name of Jesus and our life together witnesses to the world of the goodness of God. If we boast about anything, we will boast about the Lord and his presence among us. 

Praise be to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who called us, sustains us, and promises to be with us forever. AMEN. 


About the Author

  • Rachel Gough

    I co-pastor Monroe Covenant Church along with Michelle Huskamp. We are a small church family with a huge heart for the community. We were called together from within our congregation in June 2020, and we have shared the burden and privilege of pastoral leadership during the last two and a half years of a pandemic, racial reckoning, and political polarization. Every day we thank God for the people in this church who love God and each other with their whole lives. My husband, Bryan, and I have lived in Monroe for nine years with our kids, Amelia and John, and we intend to stay here for the rest of our days, bearing witness to the long, slow work of shalom that God is doing in our little corner of the world.

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