"Pastor Charlie Woodward", "Charlie Woodward"Pastor Charlie Woodward writes a daily devotion for the pandemic days until things are back to “normal,” whenever that may be. As the title states, we are in the wilderness alone, but we are still together. We may feel isolated and on our own. But we are in this together. I want to make sure we have an opportunity to stay connected. Each devotion will include a Bible verse, a brief reflection and prayer.  

Find a link to each day’s devotion below, or sign up here to receive the devotions to your inbox every morning. Choose the Devotions distribution list.

This is an opportunity for us to be present with each other in the days to come. You can be present by sharing your comments, insights, prayers and pictures in response to what Pastor Charlie shares in the coming days. For we are in this together. And where two or three are gathered in God’s name, God is present, too.

The Light Shines

John 12:44-50  

44 Then Jesus cried aloud: “Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness. 47 I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, 49 for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me.”
 

These words of Jesus come at the end of his public ministry. In the following chapter, Jesus gathers with his disciples on the night he is betrayed, washes their feet, and gives them a new commandment to love one another.

These words are a summary of his teachings. Throughout the Gospel of John there are references to darkness and light. In these final words, Jesus states it clearly – “I have come as light into the world.”

Like any good book, the summary brings us back to the beginning. In the first chapter of the Gospel of John, we read these words:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)

Light reveals things that darkness hides. This can be a good thing. It can also be a scary thing. For the truth is that there are things that we wish could stay hidden in the darkness. We hide it in the deepest, darkest corner we can find, and we hope no one will ever find it.

The light that shines in the darkness comes to you and me to shed light, even on those dark places.

But we need not fear, for the good news of Jesus Christ is that even the darkest crevices of our being, the things we wish could be hidden away forever, the deepest pits are not going to keep the light of Christ from shining in our lives, and the love of God filling our hearts.

God knows you. God knows your joys, your sorrows, your highs and lows, the things you have done and left undone. God knows you, and everything about you. God knows the things you proudly display in the light, as well as the things you hide away in the dark. God knows you.

And the one God knows is the one God loves. The light of God breaks through the darkness, and light wins. A light brought into a dark room is not overcome by the darkness. The light shines in the darkness.

A quote attributed to Martin Luther King Jr. – “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” (A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches)

May the light of God shine in our hearts, and may the love of God be reflected in all we say and do!

One of my favorite hymns is “I Want To Walk as a Child of the Light.”

Kathleen Thomerson is the Organist and Music Director at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Austin, Texas. “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light” is the only known hymn she has had published in any hymnals. She also wrote the tune for the hymn.

Here are the lyrics and a video:
 

I want to walk as a child of the light.

I want to follow Jesus.

God set the stars to give light the world.

The star of my life is Jesus.

In Him there is no darkness at all.

The night and the day are both alike.

The Lamb is the light of the city of God.

Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.

 

I want to see the brightness of God.

I want to look at Jesus.

Clear Sun of Righteousness, shine on my path,

and show me the way to the Father.

In Him there is no darkness at all.

The night and the day are both alike.

The Lamb is the light of the city of God.

Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.

 

I’m looking for the coming of Christ.

I want to be with Jesus.

When we have run with patience the race,

we shall know the joy of Jesus.

In Him there is no darkness at all.

The night and the day are both alike.

The Lamb is the light of the city of God.

Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.
 

Let us Pray: 

Dear God, let your light shine in my life, in my heart, and in my home. Forgive me of the darkness your reveals, and free me to live as a child of your light, forgiven and set free. Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
 


Your Nametag

Romans 15:14-21 

14 I myself feel confident about you, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another. 15 Nevertheless on some points I have written to you rather boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. 17 In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to boast of my work for God. 18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to win obedience from the Gentiles, by word and deed, 19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and as far around as Illyricum I have fully proclaimed the good news of Christ. 20 Thus I make it my ambition to proclaim the good news, not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on someone else’s foundation, 21 but as it is written,

“Those who have never been told of him shall see,

    and those who have never heard of him shall understand.”
 

 

St. Paul writes to the church in Rome that there are some things that are worth boasting. But how is our boasting received?

A colleague shared with me about a time he decided to preach on how we perceive others. Before the service on Sunday, he put nametags in each of the bulletins. He told the congregation to not show anyone their nametags until later in the service. He preached on humility. When we come across as boastful and proud, that may sometimes get in the way of the message.

He then invited people to put the nametag from their bulletin onto their shirts or jackets, then walk around and greet one another in the church for a couple of minutes. The people soon realized there were two sets of nametags – half the people had a label that read, “I am always right!” and the others had the label that read, “I may be wrong.”

He said the lesson worked; people laughed about it, but got the idea that how we come across can affect the message.

That idea came more to light when he stopped at the grocery store on the way home. As the items were being scanned at the checkout, the cashier seemed to be upset, and she refused to make eye contact with my friend. He tried to engage her in some small talk, but she was not interested in joining in. She seemed put off by something, and he didn’t quite understand.

Until he got home that afternoon and looked in the mirror, he noticed he still had the nametag on from church – it read, “I am always right!”

While Paul was ready to boast in his work in Jesus Christ, maybe we need to be a bit less boastful. Now mind you, Paul had 14 previous chapters he had already shared with the Roman Christians, so the relationship was there. But, I believe our calling is to point to Jesus Christ, and get out of the way.

Being a bit humble, and being open to hearing what others have to say, is also a way of honoring others. I may be wrong, but this is what I believe to be right.

What nametag are you wearing today? 
 

Let us Pray: 

Dear God, you are right and true and worthy of all honor and praise. May we always turn the spotlight on you. In Jesus’ name we HUMBLY pray. Amen.