Recently, I visited Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida. It is one of the United Methodist Church’s historically black universities. There, in the middle of campus, I found this epigraph written on the tombstone of the school’s founder, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune: “She has given her best, that others may live a more abundant life.” With $1.50 in 1904, Dr. Bethune started a school for girls; after 115 years, Bethune-Cookman now is a coeducational university with more than 3,700 students.

I thought of an anguished God who once proclaimed in Jeremiah 4:22: “My people are foolish, they do not know me.” On this campus it was with joy that I saw this isn’t the case; people know God. Faculty and students were interacting with one another with words like God, prayer, faith, and hope.

Do we know God? Or are we among the foolish ones of whom Jeremiah writes—the ones who are skilled in doing evil but know neither good nor God? What does it look like to live as though we know God?

Knowing God will push us to care enough to act, as Dr. Bethune did in establishing the school. Knowing God is when we cannot put a lamp under the bushel basket; we cannot help but let light shine. (See Matthew 5:15-16.)

We may not see God’s presence all the time, but the unmovable God is there in the form of the Holy Spirit. The promise of God is there for us to trust; nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God. (See Romans 8:38-39.) Remembering that “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28) in God grants us confidence to act on what we believe through our faith in Jesus Christ: love, peace, freedom, equity, prosperity, and justice.

O God of eternal presence, help me to know you better so that others may see my good works and give you glory. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 15:1-10

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Lectionary Week
September 9–15, 2019
Scripture Overview

Jeremiah’s warning of coming judgment continues. The children of Israel have become foolish, have ignored God, and have become good mainly at doing evil. God is going to respond to this situation. The psalmist describes the state of all who are foolish: they deny God and follow their own corrupt desires, including the oppression of the poor. The author of First Timothy, traditionally Paul, says that this was also his former way of life. He has been foolish and ignorant, a persecutor of the followers of Christ. In fact, he had been the worst of all sinners; yet Christ has shown him mercy, not judgment. Jesus tells two parables to reveal God’s heart. Rather than neglecting the ignorant, the foolish, and the lost, God searches to find each one of us.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28. How do your actions show others that you know God?
Read Psalm 14. When have you, like the psalmist, felt that no one knows God? How did you have faith that God would restore God’s people?
Read 1 Timothy 1:12-17. Recall a time when you felt unworthy of Christ Jesus’ full acceptance. How has that experience made you more grateful for Christ’s mercy?
Read Luke 15:1-10. In a world full of death and violence, how do you rejoice when God finds one lost person?

Respond by posting a prayer.