"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 Word “US” is so Vitally Important

God is the one who made US.

That word “US” is so vitally important for us to hear today.

John 3:16-17 reminds us that God sent God’s son to the WORLD to redeem ALL the WORLD – US. There is no “THEM.” We are ALL God’s children, made in God’s image.

 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
 
A daily email I receive is Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation,
From the Center for Action and Contemplation.
Last Thursday’s offering was titled “Being One with the Other.” I share it for today’s devotion.
 

Psalm 100 

 

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.

   Worship the Lord with gladness;

    come into his presence with singing.

 

Know that the Lord is God.

    It is he that made us, and we are his;

    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

 

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,

    and his courts with praise.

    Give thanks to him, bless his name.

 

For the Lord is good;

    his steadfast love endures forever,

    and his faithfulness to all generations.

It would seem that, quite possibly, the ultimate measure of health in any community might well reside in our ability to stand in awe at what folks have to carry rather than in judgment at how they carry it. —Gregory Boyle

 

Homeboy Industries may be one of the most visibly transformative communities in the United States today. It was founded in 1998 by Jesuit priest Gregory Boyle, or “G” (as his community likes to call him). Moved by the heartache of the people he served while pastor of Dolores Mission Church in Los Angeles, Fr. Greg started Homeboy Industries to assist individuals and families affected by the cycle of poverty, drugs, gangs, and incarceration. Along with many Homeboys and Homegirls, he believes the healing process can only happen when we are in relationship with one another. The success of this organization offers evidence to support his belief.

Mother Teresa diagnosed the world’s ills in this way: we’ve just “forgotten that we belong to each other.” Kinship is what happens to us when we refuse to let that happen. With kinship as the goal, other essential things fall into place; without it, no justice, no peace. I suspect that were kinship our goal, we would no longer be promoting justice — we would be celebrating it.

Often we strike the high moral distance that separates “us” from “them,” and yet it is God’s dream come true when we recognize that there exists no daylight between us. Serving others is good. It’s a start. But it’s just the hallway that leads to the Grand Ballroom.

Kinship — not serving the other, but being one with the other. Jesus was not “a man for others”; he was one with them. There is a world of difference in that…

No daylight to separate us.

Only kinship. Inching ourselves closer to creating a community of kinship such that God might recognize it. Soon we imagine, with God, this circle of compassion. Then we imagine no one standing outside of that circle, moving ourselves closer to the margins so that the margins themselves will be erased. We stand there with those whose dignity has been denied. We locate ourselves with the poor and the powerless and the voiceless. At the edges, we join the easily despised and the readily left out. We stand with the demonized so that the demonizing will stop. We situate ourselves right next to the disposable so that the day will come when we stop throwing people away. The prophet Habakkuk writes, “The vision still has its time, presses onto fulfillment and it will not disappoint … and if it delays, wait for it [2:3].”

Kinship is what God presses us on to, always hopeful that its time has come.

At Homeboy Industries, we seek to tell each person this truth: they are exactly what God had in mind when God made them — and then we watch, from this privileged place, as people inhabit this truth. Nothing is the same again. No bullet can pierce this, no prison walls can keep this out. And death can’t touch it — it is just that huge.

For God so loved…

May we so love…

 

Let us pray:  

Almighty God, break down the barriers, move us into community. Help US to live as US. We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.


Who is Your Helper?

The term “advocate” can also be translated as helper.

Who is your helper?

When I think of all the attributes for God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – helper is one that is unique. An advocate or a helper is one who stands with us, walks beside us, and assists us in the tasks at hand.

How do you define helper?

Last week, my granddaughter came for a visit. She will be five years old in a few weeks. She was my helper in more ways than one! She helped me make apple sauce. We each had our jobs – mine was peeling, washing and cutting the apples. Her job was to put the apple slices into the pot. Together, we made apple sauce.

My granddaughter also helped to remind me of important things, like the promise we made to have s’mores one night, or the promise of a ride in the wagon, just to name a few.

While I hope my granddaughter doesn’t think of herself on the same level as the Holy Spirit, there are some similarities I draw from our time together.

The Holy Spirit walks together with me in tasks of ministry. I know that the Spirit has equipped me for ministry, and together we can do great things.

The Holy Spirit is also with us to remind us of the things of which we need reminding. When he was tempted or went astray, Martin Luther needed to remind himself that he was baptized; his mantra in those times was, “But I am baptized!”

I believe the role of the church is to provide the tools to help remind you and me of God’s promises. You are forgiven. You are God’s beloved. Nothing can separate us from the love of God.

How does God help you?

What reminders do you need to hear?

Come, Holy Spirit.  

John 14:25-26  

 

25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.
 
 

Photo by Khalil Yamoun on Unsplash

 

Let us pray: 

Fill us with your Spirit, so that we might know we walk together with you, and you with us, to help us and remind us of your great love. We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.