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There Is Always Light

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Earlier this week when I was watching the Inauguration, and I heard Amanda Gorman, the nation's first youth poet laureate, read her poem The Hill We Climb,  I got emotional.   It started with a huge lump in my throat that turned into full-fledged ugly crying as she read the last line:   When day comes, we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it. If you have been a regular reader of the Daily Devos over the past several years, you know I love a good poem.  When you want to truly capture the essence of a feeling in ways that transcend dry-as-toast explanations... you need a poet to do it properly.   There was so much I loved about that last line because it spoke to a hopeful future beyond all of the deep, fissures, and great gulfs that have been created between us and our fellow citizens in recent years.   The light we seek to lead us forward into

Does God Care More About Rules or Relationship?

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I read that President Biden attended Mass in the morning prior to the Inauguration.  I looked at the Gospel reading for the Mass for yesterday, and discovered it was from Mark 3:1-6 which reads:  1 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2 And they watched him, to see whether he would heal him on the sabbath so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man who had the withered hand, "Come here." 4 And he said to them, "Is it lawful on the sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?" But they were silent. 5 And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Hero'di-ans against him, how to destroy him. I mentioned the whole way I came to this passage as a way of making some connections to the rocky road ahead of us t

An Open Letter To The President-Elect

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Today's Daily Devo is a bit different than usual.  I felt compelled to write an open letter to our new President (by noon today) as a prayer of sorts and a plea.   To President-Elect Biden,  Today you will be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States after what has been the most contentious and divisive election in modern history.  Some historians have written that our country is the most divided it has been since the Civil War.   Millions of my fellow citizens still believe that you won the election because of fraud, and they seem unwilling or unable to consider otherwise.   There is so much misinformation, fear, hysteria, rage, and downright hatred within our public discourse right now and most of it has been stoked by cynical political leaders who seek to divide us all for their own personal gain.   The recent violent attack on our nation's capital is the culmination of how lies and misinformation have twisted the hearts and minds of so many people--so much so that

The Most Miraculous Thing Of All

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I remember as a little kid listening to a Sunday school teacher tell the story of The Great Flood from the book of Genesis in the Hebrew Scriptures.  She related to us how Noah built his ark, and how all of the animals went into it two-by-two, single file.  As I listened to her, I started thinking about what she was saying and how improbable it seemed.  I started asking questions:  Me:  "How did they fit millions of species of animals into the ark?  It doesn't seem like it's big enough based on how it's described?"  Teacher:  "Don't you think God could have made the ark miraculously bigger inside than outside?"  Me: "Okay, well what did they feed all of the animals?  Wouldn't the carnivorous animals want to eat the other animals?  How did that work?" Teacher: "God made all of the animals become vegetarians while they were on the ark."  Me: "Well, what about the dinosaurs?  You said once that there were dinosaurs then beca

On Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - 2021

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Today as a nation we honor the memory of the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by celebrating what is now a national holiday, recognized by all 50 states.    The fight for this national holiday was contentious.  While the bill passed in 1983  (Despite the efforts of a filibuster by the former Klu Klux Klan member and long-time segregationist Senator Jesse Helms) , it wasn't fully celebrated as a national holiday until 1986.  And further, several Southern states promptly combined Martin Luther, King, Jr. Day with holidays that uplifted Confederate leader Robert E. Lee, who was born on January 19. It wasn't until the year 2000 that every state in the Union finally celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and to this day some Southern states still try to do it in conjunction with celebrations of Confederate figures.   These kinds of sad facts have largely been swept under the rug, but it's high time we confronted them.   This past year we have had to come face to fac

Second Sunday of Epiphany: Your Servant Is Listening

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Today we are continuing our journey through the season of Epiphany.   Epiphany is a season within the historic rhythms of the church where we are given the chance to be surprised by the truth of who Jesus is and what Jesus came to do.   Epiphany also offers us the gift of transformation as we allow the wonder of Christ's presence to change us, and the world around us.   One of the main issues that the Gospel writers and indeed the Apostle Paul and all of the authors of the New Testament wrestled with is simply this:  What does it mean to be transformed by the new thing God is doing through Christ?   Over and over again we see throughout the New Testament that those early Christians were being exhorted by the apostles and early church leaders to be alert to what God was doing, to stay awake... and to listen for God's voice.  Today we are going to take a fresh look at an old Sunday school story from the book of 1 Samuel, a story that occurs hundreds of years before Christ... but

When Being Right Isn't Right Enough

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I like to be right about things.  In fact, I take no small amount of pleasure in moments where I have been debating something with one of my family members (especially one of my kids) when they have to finally admit that I was right about what I was saying.   While I am typically magnanimous in my victory, I may have also been known to perform a celebratory dance, or punctuate the moment with words like, "Boom! Roasted!" or "That's right, I'm right!"   Being right is so very, very satisfying.   Until it isn't.   Because sometimes our desire to be right feels incredibly wrong for others.  Sometimes our desire to be right causes us to wound the ones we love, to do harm to our relationships, and even to blind us to the fact that what we perceive as right is actually... not right.  And there are times when the choices we have before us don't feel right at all.  In fact, we might even know  in our heart of hearts that no matter what we choose, we might ac