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Daily Devotions

Daily Prayers for the OCC  2020 

We invite you to take a moment when you rise, or to pause in the middle of the day, or as you enter prayer at the close of the day to let these meditations attend to your soul.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020. Prayer 939. New Things

Can God do a new thing? Reading the news on New Year’s Day brings a couple reactions. First, we long for a fresh start, a breath of fresh air, a new beginning to sweep us into a whole new way of living. We want to realize the world as it ought to be, not as we find it. Secondly, we have already let doubt creep into our first new day because the news coming to light is the same as yesterday. Isaiah 42:9 is convinced otherwise. God says, “See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them.” Today is a new day.

Dear God, bless us to catch the rising wind of each new day, leaving us higher up than we were before. Amen.

 

Thursday, January 2, 2020. Prayer 940. Super Service

We all appreciate receiving super service. When someone does their job thoroughly and well, it sends a message that they care. God’s prophets talk about such service. In Isaiah 42:1 we are introduced to one who serves our spirit life. “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights” declares the Lord. The one who serves the Spirit of the Lord brings justice to the nations. That’s how you will recognize super service: the just thing is always the outcome. The prophet says there won’t even be a need to raise a voice. Super service gets the job of justice done.

Dear God, let me turn my days into occasions to provide super service. May all I do serve others well-being. Amen.

 

Friday, January 3, 2020. Prayer 941. A Light to The Nations

The prophet Isaiah talks a lot about the people’s role in the global community. God is quiet clear. Isaiah 42:6 reads, “I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations.” God is asking us, and giving us, to be the light for others so that no one is left behind in the darkness of isolation, despair, desolation. We are not hapless bystanders wishing for another to come in and resolve the situation. We may hope, pray, and act for a light to be given to all. Light works in all languages.

Dear God, may the words of my mouth and the meditations in all our hearts be acceptable in your sight. Amen.

Monday, January 6, 2020. Prayer 942. Arise, Shine, For Your Light Has Come

Today is Epiphany. It is a feast day to celebrate the presence of the Lord who has been made manifest to the world as plain as day, as plain as a newborn baby. Matthew tells the story of the three Magi from the East who bring gifts fit for a king to the child of Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem. They are overwhelmed with joy when they come into the presence of the baby for the first time. The ancient prophet Isaiah 60:1 foretold these moments of joy come to pass, “Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” A baby’s face makes strangers smile.

Dear God, every baby is a new day for a broader smile, and a wider horizon for your light, love and goodness. Amen.

 

Tuesday, January 7, 2020. Prayer 943. The Just King

It’s good to be the King they say, of course until it’s not. Kings and Queens have historically been set apart from ordinary citizens and are ascribed divine origins and authority to be crowned into their role. It’s not an easy role to perform. According to the Hebrew Scriptures, the king serves by the grace of divine justice. The measurement is how the king cares for needy and who have no helper in the land. In Psalm 72:12 the role of the king is to: “deliver the needy when they call; to redeem their life from oppression and violence; for their very life is precious in his sight.”

Dear God, let me not fear to demand divine justice and mercy from our leaders for that is what you ask as well. Amen.

 

Wednesday, January 8, 2020. Prayer 944. By No Means Least

It is easy to discredit someone based on prevailing opinions of where they are from. This is the heart of the story of Epiphany and the meaning of the Christ child’s identity. The baby was born in Bethlehem. The prophets of old as remembered in Matthew 2:6 had said, “And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.” The local King Herod was so surprised that his potential rival would come from such a small, powerless place, he had to have others find it for him.

Dear God, let the world be surprised by what the gentle, the kind, the talented, the humble can do for you. Amen.

 

Thursday, January 9, 2020. Prayer 945. And Will Not Break

A small seedling in the forest survives a catastrophic windstorm because it bends but does not break. This describes the will of a leader to not rest until justice is established on earth. The temptation is that power allows you to control outcomes and destinies. But by faith, true power is relinquishing your own needs for the other. In Isaiah 42:3 we hear the attributes of divine leadership. “They shall not even break a bruised reed, a dimly lit wick will not go out, justice will come about faithfully and they will not faint nor be crushed.” God’s will be done. The tree grows.

Dear God, let the line of those standing, bending, aching, and working for justice grow stronger in every storm. Amen.

 

Friday, January 10, 2020. Prayer 946. A Voice Above The Storm

When the winds are raging and the waters overwhelm, who is in charge? The power in God’s might still maintains a centering focus in the midst of chaos. Psalm 29 offers images of where God is during cataclysmic events. “The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness, flashes forth flames of fire, strips the forest bare, and all can only say, Glory!” Yet the Lord sits enthroned “over the flood, above the waters, in the majesty of time forever.” In the angry rage of violent acts our pray is “May the Lord give strength to the people! May the Lord bless the people with peace!”

Dear God, we pray that our leaders accept your strength to direct our steps that return us to peace and goodwill. Amen.

Monday, January 13, 2020. Prayer 947. Mercy Delayed is Mercy Denied

“Justice too long delayed is justice denied,” was famously quoted by Martin Luther King, Jr. in an essay he smuggled out of a jail cell in 1963. Historically, privileged groups don’t give privileges away voluntarily. The system is full of stumbling blocks and stalling tactics. When your child is mistreated at school, at the lunch counter, and can’t get hired, it is hard to say to them, “wait.” Society says, “Your direct action campaign is ill-timed.” Psalm 40:1 says, when we wait for the Lord God will draw us up from the desolate pit. Waiting with the Lord lets God grant us the courage to act in time.

Dear God, do not withhold your mercy; let your steadfast love and faithfulness keep us safe forever. Amen.

 

Tuesday, January 14, 2020. Prayer 948. The Servant Who Glorifies God

In his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech given in 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. describes that the honor is not for himself but for all the unknown people travelling and suffering on the road to progress and hope. We can award the pilots that fly our planes, but we must recognize the unknown ground crew that makes the flight possible. The Holy Scriptures long lift up praise for the servant that responds to God’s call. Isaiah 49:3 God praises the humble servant who will “gather the people, restore the survivors, be a light to the nations, and to whom the rulers will bow down.”

Dear God, let us honor those who are not cynical, who love unconditionally, and believe in freedom and peace. Amen.

 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020. Prayer 949. Not Lacking In Any Spiritual Gift

The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the early church to affectionately remind them that despite their mistakes, the central issue in their life was to pay attention to the gifts God had already placed inside them. In 1 Corinthians 1:7 he says remember the words and knowledge you have “so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift.” Martin Luther King, Jr. said in his Nobel Lecture in 1964 that the biggest problem confronting us is our lagging spiritual and moral inner life as compared to our highly advanced technology in our external life. We have improved our means—but not our ends.

Dear God, as we wait with you, we pray you strengthen us to the end that we will be found faithful in all things. Amen.

 

Thursday, January 16, 2020. Prayer 950. Chaos or Community?

In 1967 Martin Luther King, Jr. published Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? His plea was that we still had time to make a choice for nonviolent coexistence over violent “co-annihilation.” The revolution he participated in resulted in the Civil Rights Movement and its accomplishments. The struggle continues. “In the final analysis,” he writes, “our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional.” The Apostle Paul says in Galatians 3:28 that by faith “there is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female.” We are all one in the Lord of love.

Dear God may the concerns of all neighbors be the concerns of all tribes, races, classes, genders and nations. Amen.

 

Friday, January 17, 2020. Prayer 951. Let Love Rule

Martin Luther King, Jr. concludes in Where Do We Go From Here that we “can no longer afford to worship the God of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation.” Love is the unifying force behind all life. As Arnold Toynbee once said, “Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word.” Time is ultimately deaf to our pleas to wait for more time. Which would we choose today; chaos or community?

Dear God, forgive me if I have hesitated to be your servant, if I have ever withheld love. I choose community. Amen.