Monday, December 5, 2016, Morning Chapel
By Elizabeth Dede
I think we sort of overuse this word “incredible.” After all, it means unbelievable. What is it that we don’t believe when we say, “That’s incredible?”
For instance, if we were part of this Gospel scene, we might very well say that the people who went up on the roof with their paralyzed friend, took off the roof tiles, and lowered him down to Jesus, were incredible. It’s hard for us to imagine getting up on a roof, much less carrying a paralyzed friend. So we might say, “That’s incredible!” But back in Jesus’ day people spent their evenings and nights up on the roof, so it’s not so unbelievable after all that they went up on the roof.
But they must have gone prepared. After all, where would they find ropes to tie onto the stretcher, to lower their friend down? And imagine how strong they would have to be to accomplish that feat. We might very well say, that’s incredible!
Then think of the faith these people had. They believed that Jesus could, and would, heal their friend. They went through all that work to get the paralyzed man in front of Jesus. They must have heard about his healing power, and then they had to believe. Was that so incredible?
Which is harder to believe, that Jesus can heal a paralyzed man, or that he can forgive sins? Apparently, the scribes and Pharisees thought it was pretty incredible that Jesus would acknowledge the faith of these men, and then forgive their sins. Do we find it hard to believe that Jesus can forgive our sins? Do we say, “That’s incredible?” Do we believe that our sins are so terrible that no one can forgive them?
Jesus can, and does, even in the midst of unbelief.
And then to prove that he has authority, Jesus does the most incredible thing, he tells the paralyzed man to rise, take up his bed, and walk. And guess what? The man does just that. Now I know a little bit about paralysis. My sister Jocelyn had a terrible accident many years ago. She fell down the stairs at home and broke her neck. She can’t use her legs and doesn’t have much use of her arms. Her boys were three-years-old and two at the time of the accident. If I could, I would take her up on the roof and lower her down to Jesus. That would be incredible!
We know that Jesus can heal. Perhaps some day there will be a medical miracle—some surgery, or some stem cell procedure, and my sister will walk again.
But what we do believe now is that Jesus forgives our sins, that Jesus even increases our faith. I hope the scribes and Pharisees were able to have faith, too.
During this Advent, may Jesus come into our hearts, forgive us, fill us with faith, help us to rise up and walk in the light. Now that’s not so incredible!
Morning Chapel, Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Devotional on Psalm 105:2-7
By Elizabeth Dede
How do we serve God constantly? Western culture is a culture that is self-serving, so it is a difficult charge to serve God constantly.
At Wal-Mart you serve yourself by checking out without the help of a cashier. At the gas pump you serve yourself by pumping the gas without the help of an attendant. The younger ones among us don’t even remember a time when there were attendants at gas stations. At the buffet you serve yourself and eat as much as you want. The examples go on and on.
So how do we serve God constantly? We try to resist the power of the self-serving life. We can serve God by serving others. A few weeks ago I went with John and Evelyn to the Harvest of Hope Food Pantry. Our job that morning was to bag up fresh green beans. A local farmer came with a trailer full of them. Apparently he does this regularly when he has fresh produce. People’s arms were overflowing with food, so much so that they had to have help carrying it to their cars. It was good to know that in addition to the canned food they would also have fresh produce.
This nameless farmer serves God constantly by offering his produce to the poor and needy. I know that God is happy.
God loves to be served. We can also serve God through worship. God loves to hear us sing, even if we can’t carry a tune. So sing loudly when you are at worship. Singing praise to God’s name is service.
It is also important to remember God’s saving acts and to be thankful. We can, like the children of Israel, remember our rescue from slavery and recount those stories.
I was trapped in my depression. I had tried years of therapy, but nothing seemed to help me. Then my friend Michael Galovic took me to the doctor. I was scared to death and wouldn’t have been able to go on my own. Michael gave me such a gift. I got diagnosed and got on medication. Like the children of Israel that we’ve been hearing about in the Old Testament readings, I have fallen back time and again into slavery to my bipolar disorder, but God and my friends are always there to rescue me. So I sing His praise.
God is pleased with our service and worship. Let us go about our day, serving him constantly as we do our work, as we greet each other, as we care for the poor, as we worship and pray, and as we sing loudly, if off-key, to God. Amen.