Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost- Week of August 16, 2020
Begin your devotion time by praying this prayer: Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of his redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of his most holy life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (Collects: Contemporary, Book of Common Prayer, p. 232)
Adult and Small Child
Read: Matthew 15:10-28
Reflect: Today we learn that even Jesus used unkind words. A Canaanite woman comes to Jesus seeking help for her suffering child. She’s desperate for a miracle, and Jesus calls her a dog, an ethnic slur common during his time. Jesus explains that his message and ministry are for Israelites only. It wouldn’t be fair, Jesus explains, to take the banquet prepared for his people and give it to Gentiles, the dogs. Jesus is a product of the environment in which he was raised. Even as the Son of God, he was affected by the system of oppression and supremacy around him.
Look at how he responds when the woman confronts him. She challenges Jesus and changes him. She sees God’s power in Jesus and knows God’s grace extends to all people. She knows there is room at God’s table for everyone. Even Jesus needs a teachable moment.
Respond: This week will surely present teachable moments like the Canaanite woman shared with Jesus. I guarantee at some point this week, my daughter will pinch my son to get his attention, he will scream, and she’ll reply, “it didn’t hurt!” I also expect my son to laugh at something my daughter says when she isn’t trying to be funny, which will lead to tears, and he will respond, “why are you crying? It’s not a big deal.”
This is when I’ll recite my parenting mantra, “we don’t get to decide how other people feel.” We don’t get to decide how our words or actions affect other people. But if we see that something we say hurts another person’s feelings or hurts their body, we shouldn’t do it again. Even if what we did doesn’t seem like a big deal.
- Allison Liles
Adult and Elementary
Read: Genesis 45:1-15
Reflect: What is a gift? It isn’t a form of payment or earned acknowledgement for anything the receiver has done. A gift is freely given. The receiver cannot demand a gift, or it is no longer a gift. A gift may be unexpected and undeserved. When Joseph’s brothers arrive unaware before the brother they sold into slavery, Joseph gives them an incredible gift. For their treatment of him, they could have expected contempt. The brothers might have deserved retaliation, but instead, in an act of pure grace, Joseph not only forgives them but promises to use his powers to care for them and their families. Joseph can give this gift because he has been the recipient of a gift himself. God transformed the evil that Joseph’s brothers did to Joseph into a gift, giving Joseph a life that he never could have had otherwise. It is easy to dwell on misfortune that has happened in our lives or to carry grudges against people who have let us down. It is easy to refuse to be gracious and to instead seek to settle the score and only give people what they think we they deserve. But that isn’t how God deals with us.
Respond: What is the best gift you’ve ever been given? Was it a surprise? Something you always wanted? What is a gift that wasn’t an object but rather an attitude – did someone forgive you? Did someone spend time with you? Make you feel as if you were special or talented or welcome or beloved? Was it a gift of grace? Now think about how it feels to give a gift – what are you trying to communicate with the gifts you give? Are you willing to give grace as easily as you give something that can be put in a box? Finally, what gifts has God given you? How do you think God feels about you when God gives you gifts? What might God be trying to communicate to you? Talk about the gifts in your life and the people with whom you have both given to and received gifts from.
- Lisa Brown
Adult and Youth
Read: Matthew 15:10-18
Reflect: Picture in your mind: you are walking down the street and an unclean person approaches you. What would you do? I have witnessed with my eyes persons quickly walking away to avoid making contact, while there were those who stopped and engaged.
I recall a visit to Alabama. I was standing with a friend in Kelly Ingram Park. A man approached us, requesting food or money to buy food. My reaction was: how can I help this man to satisfy such hunger? How can I be Christ to this person?
What if you or I were in the shoes of the hungry person?
With a thankful heart, let us be kind to all we encounter. We are not sure what our lot might be. While we have the opportunity, let us do good. As my grandmother always said, “do good and good will follow you.”
Respond: How can we respond to the growing trend of discrimination in our communities? Why can’t we all live together as a unified body? Can you imagine the magnitude of the transformational impact? Gather some of your friends and come up with a plan for this: how can the church better help its community, especially the outcast, homeless, hungry and the oppressed?
- Trevaughn Todman
Adult and Adults
Read: Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32
Reflect: The gifts God gives you are irrevocable. This is important good news. There is nothing that this world can do to diminish of remove the what God gave you when you came into this world. Even though sometimes it feels like the opposite is true. We always have a way to return to our God given identity no matter how far we seem to be drawn from it by our circumstances. God’s mercy means that God’s love is always available to us. With that love comes grace and gifts according to the spirit. We are invited to claim this love and these gifts each and every day. God wants us to live our life in the knowledge of these things, to accept the gifts we have been given with gratitude, and to put them to good use.
Respond: Take some time to journal about a time in your life when you felt out of touch with your God given gifts. What did this feel like? How long did it last? Do you know what caused the separation? How did you reclaim ownership of these gifts? If you haven’t yet what do you think it might take to do so? End your reflection time with this prayer: “I was made in the image and the likeness of my God. It’s not something they can take from me. It’s not something I can ignore. Because I was made in the image and the likeness of my God.”
- Samantha Clare
Download a printable copy of this week's devotions HERE.