"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.

Not Those Nasty Pharisees

There are two lessons to be shared from the above Gospel. The first is that Jesus faced adversity. Of course, we know that, as we see what transpired on Good Friday. But, often the image we have of Jesus is of one filled with joy, peace, and goodwill for all. You don’t get crucified when you get along with everyone! Just saying.

The image of Jesus that I believe is most compelling, and true to form, is one who sets his face toward Jerusalem, knowing Good Friday will come. Nothing, absolutely nothing, will stand in the way. Jesus comes to the earth not to win a popularity contest. He comes to win the world. Jesus comes to SAVE the world.

So, I believe that sometimes we need to get beyond the warm, fuzzy image of Jesus, and understand the adversity that he faced.

The second lesson I believe we can learn from this text is what I believe we shouldn’t conclude from this text. My concern is that we look at this text and conclude that there is one group of people responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion and death — those nasty Pharisees (because they’re not fair, you see!).

While it is very true that Jesus had run-ins with the Pharisees, to put the full blame on the Pharisees is to remove the guilt and shame of sin from us. Jesus didn’t simply die for the sins of the Pharisees. The sin of all the world is put to death on Jesus’ shoulders.

One of the things I missed the most the past three months was Holy Week; it was taken from us. Now mind you, we had 

Luke 11:53-12:3 
 

53 When he went outside, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile toward him and to cross-examine him about many things, 54 lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.

 

12 Meanwhile, when the crowd gathered by the thousands, so that they trampled on one another, he began to speak first to his disciples, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees, that is, their hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops.
 
enough brokenness to focus on at that time. Even so, the journey to the cross and the reminder of my own brokenness — I invite you to consider your own brokenness as well — were lost.
 
The hymn “Ah, Holy Jesus,” which we often sing on Good Friday, reminds us and reminds me that putting the blame of Jesus’ suffering and dying on the cross on someone else is sin at its very core.
 
 

Who was the guilty – Who brought this upon Thee?

Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone Thee.

‘Twas I, Lord, Jesus, I it was denied Thee!

I crucified Thee.
 
 

Jesus taught that instead of looking for specks in our neighbor’s eye, we should look in the mirror and take care of the log jam that clouds our sight.

Okay, enough of making you feel miserable. Not my intent!

Know this: while we (and that WE is bigger than you could ever imagine) were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Thanks be to God!

 

Let us pray:

Almighty and Ever-living God, Forgive us, forgive ME for being quick to judge others, and slow to admit my own sinfulness and guilt. Thank you for your Son, who comes to save us all. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


Speaking About What We Believe

The book of Acts of the Apostles is filled with stories of these followers of Jesus speaking up with the voices they are given to proclaim Jesus Christ is Lord.

In November 2018, I was blessed to participate in a class sponsored by Lutheran World Federation. This class brought Lutheran pastors from around the world, from Mexico to Myanmar, from United States to India, from Namibia to Nicaragua, from Brazil to Denmark, from Germany to Madagascar and more. I was thankful the classes were in English, and we were able to converse in English as well.

We spent a day going to Wartburg Castle, where Luther hid out and spent time translating the Bible to German. As we walked up the path, one of my colleagues from The U.S. said, “I wish I had my binoculars!” Our German friend asked what binoculars were. She didn’t recognize that word. So we explained to her what they were. Later she tried to recall this new English word, but it came out “banana-killers.” My American friend corrected her and told her how to say “binoculars” again. Then she pointed to her teeth and said, “THESE are my banana-killers!”

I believe sometimes we are afraid of speaking up and speaking out about what we believe, because we don’t have the right words or know what to say. I would argue that you do have the words. It is as simple as sharing where you see God in your life. Where have you seen the hand of God today?

In sharing this, we share that God is a part of who we are, and that God is with us. That works in EVERY language.

A few weeks ago, my friend from Mexico asked us to send him a video of ourselves reading a passage of scripture in our native tongue. He compiled it for Pentecost Sunday. Check it out to the right. 
 

Philippians 2:11 

Every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”

 

Let us pray

Almighty God, we confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Open our lips to proclaim the Good News today. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Acts 5:17-26 

 

17 Then the high priest took action; he and all who were with him (that is, the sect of the Sadducees), being filled with jealousy, 18 arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, brought them out, and said, 20 “Go, stand in the temple and tell the people the whole message about this life.” 21 When they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and went on with their teaching.

When the high priest and those with him arrived, they called together the council and the whole body of the elders of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22 But when the temple police went there, they did not find them in the prison; so they returned and reported, 23 “We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 24 Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were perplexed about them, wondering what might be going on. 25 Then someone arrived and announced, “Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!” 26 Then the captain went with the temple police and brought them, but without violence, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people.