One of the highest privileges of my life’s vocation as a minister is that of being present with people at the key moments of their lives. “Hatch, Match, and Dispatch”—an in-joke among clergy—sums up the reality that the ancient rites surrounding birth, marriage, and death mark the universal parameters of all human life. Our pastoral presence as comfort, support, and guide plays an essential role on such occasions.

Baptisms and weddings are occasions for rejoicing, whereas funerals are more somber and sad. At such times, the Minister’s Service Book that has guided my fifty-plus years of ministry commends “the comfort of the scriptures.” I have often found that the thoughtful reading of selected passages can offer fuller, deeper, and more enduring support than any words of my own.

The phrases and cadences of Psalm 121 speak powerfully at such times of loss and grief. I find the words toward the close of this psalm especially helpful. These words about going out and coming in assure us of God’s unsleeping watch over our going out to school and our coming in to family and home, our going out to work and our coming in to refreshment and rest, our going out to college, to marriage, to the new experiences of parenthood, to service of God and neighbor, to retirement, and then our coming in again to the company of those we cherish. And finally, in our last going out into the unknown realms of death and the beyond, even then we will know our coming in, returning home at the last to that long-promised, well-earned rest. We may experience the joy of knowing we abide in the everlasting arms, where all we love and have loved will be reunited and fulfilled for all eternity.

May this day’s going out and coming in be guarded by your presence, Lord, lived out in joyful service. Amen.

Rece las Escrituras usando Leccionario en Audio
Leer John 3:1-17

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Leccionario Semanal
March 2–8, 2020
Resumen de la Escritura

The readings for this week provide an overview of the history of God’s people. Genesis recounts the story of Abraham, who because of his great faith leaves his home and goes to a land that God has promised to show him. The psalmist speaks for the descendants of Abraham, who trust in the Lord to watch over them and be their helper. Paul in Romans argues against those who believe that God’s grace is a result of correctly following religious law. It is Abraham’s faith (for there is no law in Abraham’s time) that prompts him to follow God, and for this he is commended. Both Gospel passages (John and Matthew) emphasize that the story of Jesus is the continuation of a relationship with God’s faithful people that began with Abraham.

Preguntas para la reflexión

Read Genesis 12:1-4a. Recall a major and a minor crossroads in your life. How did you listen for God’s call during each time?
Read Psalm 121. Reflect on the times in your life when this psalm has most strongly resonated with you. How do your strongest emotions point you to God’s presence?
Read Romans 4:1-5, 13-17. What motivates you to do good works? How do you balance “faith alone” and the action to which God calls you?
Read John 3:1-17. How do you hear again the powerful words of verses so familiar they permeate culture? What makes these words fresh for you?

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