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United Methodist annual conferences often open with a hymn that asks whether the gathered have survived another year. Voices echo throughout auditoriums as clergy and laity affirm that the God who has called them in shared ministry has brought them together safely again. That hymn restates the words of Psalm...
O God, teach me to listen and to be present as a bearer of your life-giving love. Amen.
Through Jeremiah, God sends a message to the people in exile: They are to seek good for the city of Babylon, their new home. God will bless the city and in doing so will bless God’s people. The psalmist encourages the people to praise God with songs recounting past challenges through which God’s powerful deeds have brought them. This can be encouragement for those currently experiencing difficulties. In Second Timothy, Paul encourages his protégé to endure suffering if necessary. In fact, Timothy should expect to experience resistance. Although the apostle is in chains, the word of God is powerful and can never be chained. The story in Luke reminds us of a basic truth: We should remember to show gratitude to God for answered prayers.
Read Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7. When have you experienced physical or metaphorical exile? How has God helped you to thrive in your Babylon?
Read Psalm 66:1-12. Recall a time of division in your family or community of faith. How did God bring you individually and collectively to a spacious place?
Read 2 Timothy 2:8-15. How do you remember Christ in your actions toward others?
Read Luke 17:11-19. What boundaries keep you from full wellness that can be found in Jesus Christ?
Respond by posting a prayer.
While several strategies for reopening the world are being discussed, I encourage you—the people of God everywhere—to allow this season to be a formative one during which you can make new discoveries about God and increase your faith. Use this time to embark on a life of prayer, a life of study, and a life of action—involvement in the community.”