"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.

Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day!

I called my parents sometime between midnight and 2 a.m. on November 1, 1986, to let them know they were grandparents once again, and that there was finally a female in the Woodward family. My dad answered the phone, and the one thing I remember him saying is, “Isn’t it wonderful being a dad?” While I only had the title for a couple of hours at that point, I had to agree that yes, it is wonderful being a dad. And over 33 years later, I can still say that with certainty and joy.

My dad was a man of few words. His greatest fear when he got married was what he and his wife would talk about for the next 50 years! 

My dad loved a good joke, but he was never good at telling one. He loved practical jokes. He was the head usher at the church we attended for the month of January. One year when January 1 fell on a Sunday, he thought it would be fun to pull a joke on the pastor. One of his tasks as head usher was to put a water glass in the pulpit for the pastor. He did that, and in honor of New Year’s Day, he also added two olives to the drink! 

Another Sunday, April 1, he encouraged everyone in the church to sit on the opposite side of the church than they usually sat. It wasn’t until half-way through the sermon that the pastor noticed.

Dad wasn’t perfect. None of us are. But God gives us parents for a reason. These are the humans that are charged with the calling of raising a child, caring for the child, and teaching the child. The role of teacher has become even more evident these past few months for parents who are at home with their kids 24/7. God bless you all! 

Yes, I know there are bad dads. There are dads that have abandoned or hurt their kids. Some dads are lessons in what is the wrong way to parent instead of the right way. 

But there are good dads, too. And there are dads who are trying to do what is right — saints and sinners at the same time, as Luther would remind us. 

All that being said, let us remember the Commandments, and the Fourth Commandment in particular – Honor your Father and your Mother! For God creates us in community. God creates us in family. 
 

I hope and pray you have memories you can honor today.

One of the ways my kids honored me over 25 years ago was by giving me this t-shirt. I wear it with great pride once a year. Can you relate? 

 

Happy Father’s Day!

 

Let us pray:

Almighty God, Loving Father. Bless all Fathers and those who offer fatherly love and guidance in our lives. May we honor them today. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Genesis 21:8 

The child grew, and was weaned; and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned.
 
 
 
 


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.