SUNDAY, May 14
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35
In high school, I was in all the things you could be in by playing an instrument—concert band, jazz band, and field band, to name a few. My band director taught me one of the most important things I’ve ever learned about music: You can’t have music without silence.
Music without silence isn’t called music; it’s called noise. There has
to be space in between notes, pauses in the sound, and order amidst the chaos in order for the magical transformation to occur from noise
“Selah” means simply to pause and listen. The psalmist lists all the ways God is on the move, working in our world, and regularly (once even midsentence) invites us to pause and listen, to process in wonder the grandness of our Creator. If worship is responding to God’s mercy, worship doesn’t just come from the sound; it also comes from the silence, where we recognize who God is, what God does, and how
God is on the move.
God, help us to make space in our noisy lives to wonder at your mercy. AMEN.
PRAYER FOCUS: THE MOTHERS IN OUR LIFE
MONDAY, May 15
It can be hard to be ready when God moves. Even the early believers, witnesses to miraculous things, had a hard time believing in the unexpected. Peter is imprisoned, and even as God frees him, he thinks he’s dreaming. The believers—who were praying for the very miracle that landed on their doorstep—end up leaving the miracle on the front stoop knocking to come inside because it was so unexpected.
So many of the Scriptures speak of being ready for the work of the Spirit of God, because often God’s work happens in ways we don’t anticipate, even as we ask for God’s aid. But this is not a rebuke; the Scriptures speak of this often because it’s hard to be ready for what we don’t know! When we ask, we should be already watching for signs that God is at work. Times like this are an invitation to trust more deeply in the God who is on the move.
God, open my eyes to help me see how you are working all for good. AMEN.
TUESDAY, May 16
We are what we repeat.
As an artist, I can certainly attest to the truth of this statement: the hours spent in practice rooms, the endless time listening to others perform a piece I’m working on, the repetitive drills on fingerings and long tones and all manner of other exercises—all in the name of improving my craft.
The people of Lystra were much the same. A miracle happened in their midst, yet they could not see how it could have been caused by anything but the explanations they had been repeating since birth. Old habits die hard. In fact, their old habits led to Paul’s stoning later in this chapter.
Our habits can only change when we’re made aware of them—and then intentionally begin new patterns, new practices, new repetitions
to replace the old ones. Praying for God’s deliverance from old habits
is a dangerous prayer, yet it is the key to growth. Because we are what
God, show me an old habit that needs to change, and transform me. AMEN.
PRAYER FOCUS: THOSE FACING ADVERSITY
WEDNESDAY, May 17
Every obstacle is an opportunity for connection.
As Paul moved among the idols in Athens, he saw so many reasons the people could not be helped. They worshiped those idols, and they debated the latest ideas, instead of taking action. But where others might see an obstacle, Paul saw an opportunity for connection. In the Athenians, he saw curiosity, and that was enough to open a door to conversation.
In an act of pure creativity, Paul turned the story of their own people—their poets, philosophers, even their religion—into a message of hope in Jesus. Rather than despairing of the many possible barriers, Paul looked for points of connection, which is to say, he looked for common ground to begin a relationship.
The Creator—the one in whom all things are possible—invites us to a new perspective today. The things we may view as problems may simply be opportunities by another name.
God, help me today to see the opportunities in the obstacles. AMEN.
THURSDAY, May 18 (Ascension)
Why are you standing there?
The angels seem a little impatient; after all, Jesus had only just left—and by ascending into the clouds at that! Viewed from the perspective of history, however, it’s a fitting question. Either way, God seems eager for the church to move. Jesus had spent three years training the disciples for a mission, and yet even now, they miss the point. Jesus said there are things to be done, yet the kingdom the disciples were worried about was the wrong kingdom. The power of the Spirit was to come upon them; the disciples didn’t even have to generate the energy on their own!
We are often the same. We become captivated by ideas, not by action; by rules, not by relationship; by gifts, not by responsibility. But the God of Creation—who has been on the move throughout our whole history—calls us to join on a mission of mercy to the ends of the earth.
God, open our hearts and minds and bodies to the mission to which you
call us. AMEN.
PRAYER FOCUS: INCARCERATED INDIVISUALS
FRIDAY, May 19
The “self-made person” is a popular myth in our culture. We like to believe we don’t need anybody else, that we are somehow entirely and completely self-reliant.
But Jesus knew differently. He knew that everything and everyone is connected. Not only are we dependent on God for our very being, but we are also, by design, connected to other human beings, many of whom we will never even meet. And this connection isn’t simply a fact; it’s a promise, borne from the love of the God who is on the move.
Jesus tells us, I know you love me when you want to be like me, when you want to bring life where you are, when you want to show mercy and offer kindness, when you want to go where I go, do what I do, and care like I care. The promise is this: Jesus will show up to do the same, to connect us together and bring life.
God, grow our awareness of our connection to you and to others. AMEN.
SATURDAY, May 20
“When Chuck Norris jumps into a lake, Chuck Norris doesn’t get wet; water gets Chuck Norris.”
I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for these jokes. This one helps me remember why Jesus could touch lepers: I don’t dirty Jesus in my brokenness, my stubbornness, or my sin. Instead, my brokenness gets Jesus.
God is redeeming the world; the new creation is coming, and we have the hope that our world is being remade for the best. But it can be easy to forget sometimes that we are a part of that world, and that sometimes—often—the thing that most needs remaking and refining
God does not cause evil. God takes the challenges of our lives—even the consequences of our bad choices—and uses them for good. This is a journey of discipleship. We are refined because of our connection to the Creator of life itself.
God, draw me closer to you each day, and remake me to be more like you. AMEN.
PRAYER FOCUS: STUDENTS WHO ARE GRADUATING