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There’s no such thing as a free lunch. That mind-set permeates our culture. For example, here in the South, we are taught never to return a dish empty after someone gives us food. So in order to keep my neighbors from reciprocating every time I share a treat, I have...

Holy God, encourage us to give up our spiritual scales. May we allow ourselves to rest in your grace and to focus on relationship, not rules. Amen.

Lectionary Week
February 19–25, 2018
Scripture Overview

We cannot earn God’s love. Going back to the time of Abraham, God’s blessing has been based on faith. God chose Abraham for a covenant not because Abraham was perfect but because he believed God. The psalmist reminds his audience of their ancient relationship with God and expresses the hope that it will continue through future generations. Paul reinforces the centrality of faith in Romans. Following the law was not bad, but no one should believe that following the law could earn God’s favor. In Mark 8, Jesus pushes his disciples in their understanding of faith. Trusting God means surrendering everything, including position and reputation. If we value those things more than God, then we are not displaying the faith of Abraham.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16. No rules, just relationship. How comfortable are you in your relationship with God? Upon what does it rest?
• Read Psalm 22. Which verses are most familiar to you? In what ways does your faith journey live in the interplay of shadow and light?
• Read Romans 4:13-25. How easily do you live in God’s grace? In what areas do you find yourself “reckoning” your righteousness?
• Read Mark 8:31-38. When the world asks you who you are, what is your reply?

Respond by posting a prayer.


The Art is Outside

“As the curator of The Upper Room Chapel and Museum, it is my task to highlight art and draw the viewer into the work itself. On clear days, the art is outside The Upper Room Chapel: gorgeous pink blossom clouds of the Japanese Magnolia trees. The blossoms don’t last very long. If you are in the Nashville area, take a few minutes to stop by and enjoy them. ‘We recognize God’s presence in the world around us,’ the author of The Mystic in You says. ‘Sometimes it comes because of our intentional spiritual practices. Other times, it comes when we least expect it and do not feel as though we deserve it.  … Geese flying overhead and a dog running in its sleep become windows into eternity when we pause, notice and open to the wonder of all being.’ Sometimes it is in a pink cloud of blossoms.”