"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.

A Harvest of Joy

A harvest of joy! What a wonderful title.

I hope and pray that as we return to worship in the coming weeks, after months of sorrow and loneliness and isolation, that we shall come home filled with joy.

It is a tradition in some churches that the Sunday after Easter is a time for holy hilarity. It is a time to put off the sadness and sorrow of Lent and celebrate the good news of great joy that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. Holy hilarity!

Some might think that church is not a place to laugh. It’s a place to be somber and quiet. But God gave us the ability to laugh, to smile, to be filled with joy.

The Psalmist writes – “Our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with shouts of joy.”
 
Share a joke. Tell a story that brought you joy.
 
Let me start.
 

Why do seagulls fly over the sea?

Because if they flew over the bay, they would be bagels (Get it? Bay-gulls?)!

Or, the story of the pastor who gave a test to her catechism class. One of the questions was this – list the Ten Commandments in any order.

The answer that one student wrote on his paper was this:
 

4

7

10

6

5

3

1

9

8

2

 

Share a joke. Share a smile.

 

These are gifts from God.

 

Let us pray:

Your great love fills us with great joy. Help us to share your joy today. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Psalm 126 

 

A Harvest of Joy

1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,

    we were like those who dream.
 

2  Then our mouth was filled with laughter,

    and our tongue with shouts of joy;

then it was said among the nations,

    “The Lord has done great things for them.”
 

3  The Lord has done great things for us,

    and we rejoiced.
 

4  Restore our fortunes, O Lord,

    like the watercourses in the Negeb.
 

5  May those who sow in tears

    reap with shouts of joy.
 

6  Those who go out weeping,

    bearing the seed for sowing,

shall come home with shouts of joy,

    carrying their sheaves.
 

Photo by Dan Cook on Unsplash



Boasting in Our Sufferings

Boasting in our sufferings.

That seems to go against what we were taught growing up. Another word that comes to mind is “whining.”

But St. Paul’s words to the Church in Rome takes on a different connotation.

First of all, it’s not about just one of us. It is about all of us. There is a communal “we” in this passage.

We find this in scripture over and over again, and it can be difficult for our individual 21st century brains to comprehend.
 

Let us remember that God creates us to be community. Even in Genesis 1 when God creates humanity, community exists – “Let US make humankind in OUR image.”

At the heart of our sinful nature is when we move from “we” and only focus on “me.”
 

In his letter to the Church in Corinth, St. Paul says that when one part of the body (the church) suffers, all suffer with it, and when one rejoices, all rejoice (1 Corinthians 12). We are in this together.

Boasting is not to focus on how great we are, but how great God is, and will continue to be.

Verses 3-5 are some of my favorites. For me (for us, I should say), there is hope laid out before us. We are going to get through this, and we are going to do it together.

And the verses that follow remind us that God has made a great investment in us, even when we were (and still are) messing up along the way.

God’s promises.

That is something in which we can boast.

That is something we can share.

Let us pray: 

Help us, Lord, to remember that that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because of your love that has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Romans 5:1-8 

 

5:1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

5:2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.

5:3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,

5:4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

5:5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

5:6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

5:7 Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die.

5:8 But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.
 

Photo by Daan Stevens on Unsplash