"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.

Wouldn’t It Be Nice?

Psalm 119:129-136
 

129 Your decrees are wonderful;

    therefore my soul keeps them.

130 The unfolding of your words gives light;

    it imparts understanding to the simple.

131 With open mouth I pant,

    because I long for your commandments.

132 Turn to me and be gracious to me,

    as is your custom toward those who love your name.

133 Keep my steps steady according to your promise,

    and never let iniquity have dominion over me.

134 Redeem me from human oppression,

    that I may keep your precepts.

135 Make your face shine upon your servant,

    and teach me your statutes.

136 My eyes shed streams of tears

    because your law is not kept.
 
We seek God’s word, but sometimes what should be easy to understand is not so simple. We seek God’s Word for our lives. Wouldn’t it be nice if we got simple, direct answers to our questions?
 
Reggie White was a professional football player and an ordained minister – “The Minister of Defense!” He played several years for the Philadelphia Eagles, and when his contract was about up, there was much speculation about where he would go next.
 
Several reporters asked him time and time again what he was planning to do. White’s response was that he was praying about it and waiting for God to tell him where to go.
 
Legend has it that the coach of the Green Bay Packers, Mike Holmgren, called Reggie White and said, “Reggie, this is God. Go to Green Bay!”
 
Wouldn’t it be nice if it were that easy?!
 
I believe the study of Scripture gives us the opportunity to know who God is and what God desires. The more we come to know who God is and what God has done and continues to do, the better we know the heart of God. It is like that person we know so well, that even when we ask the question, we already know the answer.
 
Martin Luther wrote this:
 
These are the Scriptures which make fools of all the wise and understanding, and are open only to the small and simple, as Christ says in Matthew 11:25. Therefore dismiss your own opinions and feelings, and think of the scriptures as the loftiest and noblest of holy things, as the richest of mines which can never be sufficiently explored, in order that you may find divine wisdom which God here lays before you in such simple guise as to quench all pride. Here you will find the swaddling clothes and the manger in which Christ lies.  — Luther, Luther’s Works, vol. 35: Prefaces to the Old Testament, 236.
 
I commend you today for taking the time to read this scripture with me. 
 
Let us Pray: 
Almighty God, we give thanks for your Word. May it be a lamp unto our feet and light unto our path. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


Wonderfully Made

Psalm 139:13-18
 

13 For it was you who formed my inward parts;

    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

    Wonderful are your works;

that I know very well.

15     My frame was not hidden from you,

when I was being made in secret,

    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

16 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.

In your book were written

    all the days that were formed for me,

    when none of them as yet existed.

17 How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!

    How vast is the sum of them!

18 I try to count them—they are more than the sand;

    I come to the end—I am still with you.
 

 

At the funeral service for Beverly Miller, I shared the following words:

I don’t often remember when it was that I first met someone, but I do with Beverly. Maybe it’s because it had to do with food! It was my first month here at Epiphany, and the occasion was Beverly’s 60th birthday party here at the church. A group of women from the church threw her a party, and invited me to join in. It was obvious that this woman, beaming with that gleam in her eye, was surrounded by people she loved, and people who loved her.
 

Limited in her movement and speech by brain tumors, and surgery to remove them decades earlier, that did not limit the joy and love that filled that room. At that moment and in every encounter I had with Beverly over these past four years, I saw one as we heard in today’s psalm one who is fearfully and wonderfully made.

 

Consider Eugene Peterson’s “The Message” version of Psalm 139:13-15:

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;

    you formed me in my mother’s womb.

I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!

    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!

    I worship in adoration—what a creation!

You know me inside and out,

    you know every bone in my body;

You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,

    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.

 

Over the years, Beverly has continued to be a faithful member of Epiphany, here in church on Sundays with Gary by her side, and the past couple of years, grandson, William, with them as well.
 
Let me say this – don’t tell me you can’t make it to church because you don’t feel up to it. I commend Beverly and Gary for making the effort to be here as often as possible. 
 
My encounters with Beverly were received in a manner that was always thankful, always gracious. I would ask, “Beverly, how are you today?” And, almost always, her response, “Today, I am good.”
 
When I read this psalm, I remember and give thanks for Beverly.
 
Beverly was a smart woman. Beverly graduated third in her High School class of over 1,000. She received many scholarship offers, and finally chose Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.
 
She majored in Math and minored in Computer Science. It was at Purdue that a certain saxophone player came into Beverly’s life. It was music, Purdue University, and the fact that Beverly lived in Miami that brought them together. Gary was invited to take a trip with the Purdue Band to Venezuela – just a group of 100 upper classmen were invited. The trip was paid for from Miami, Florida, onward. The students had to find a way to get to Miami first. Gary knew Beverly and that she hailed from Miami, so he asked if he could park his car at her parents’ house. Of course!
 
When he returned from the trip, Beverly just happened to be at home on Spring Break. The relationship blossomed.
 
They went back to Purdue, and Beverly graduated in three years and one semester with all A’s and five B’s. Those five B’s happened after Gary came into the picture!
 
They were married a year after they started dating on June 9, 1973, at Sunrise Presbyterian Church in Florida. Three years into their marriage, some 40 years ago, Beverly was having issues when playing tennis. She kept missing balls hit to her left side. She was losing her periphery vision on that side.
 
In January, exploratory surgery found brain tumors, and the removal of the tumors left part of Beverly’s left side paralyzed. Being left-handed, she had to relearn several skills. But that didn’t slow her down. Beverly worked for 30+ years as a computer programmer designing, writing, and implementing software. Beverly most recently was employed with TRW, BDM, and Northrup Grumman. She was honored and respected for her gifts, her talents, her skills.
 
Over the years, Beverly’s health continued to deteriorate. Her final days were in a room at Hospice of Dayton.
 
In the sky the day Beverly passed away was a beautiful rainbow, a sign of God’s promise. God is present.
 
In the room after Beverly passed away, we prayed together, knowing that even though she was gone, God was doing something special that day – welcoming home one of God’s own children, saying to Gary, “Thank you for bringing her this far. I will continue to walk with her from here.” I imagine that walk to continue with no limp, no paralysis, no pain and confusion: only peace, the crown of righteousness on her head.
 
For Jesus died on a cross, was buried in a grave, and many thought that was the end. But on that blessed Easter Day, Jesus leaves the tomb behind, leaves death itself behind, and rises to new life. That victory over sin and death is now Beverly’s victory. Because of that, we have hope! 
 
Beverly – body and soul – marvelously made!
 

Let us Pray: 

Almighty God, may we see in one another the wonder of Your creation. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.