I have always marveled at what a great father my dad was, especially considering that he had such a difficult childhood. His parents were neglectful and drank way too much. At an early age, he chose to leave his home and went to live with his grandmother. Because of his early childhood, my father always asked us to stay away from alcohol; and I did. I obeyed my father not because I was holy or a “good girl” but because it would hurt him if I drank.
When I was in seventh grade, visiting my friend, she talked me into tasting whiskey. I only took one taste, and it was terrible! But then I was wracked with regret and went home and told my dad what I had done. His reaction was not the anger I had imagined but rather a deep sadness. I will never forget the look on his face. He did not need to punish me or tell me once again why he did not want me to drink. I loved him, and I had hurt him. That was all the punishment I needed. Instead, I needed his forgiveness. As he hugged me and told me that he forgave me, I made a vow that I would not hurt him again. I was never again going to risk damaging our relationship!
Today’s scripture reminds me of this story from my childhood. John’s words reflect the lesson I learned from my father. Once we truly understand how much love God has for us, we will not sin. We obey God not because we might get into trouble but because we do not want to do anything to damage the loving relationship between ourselves and the God who loves us so completely!
O God, keep me far from temptation and sin. I desire nothing more than the loving relationship I have with you. May I be discerning, and may my actions show my love for you. In Christ’s name, Amen.
A repeating theme in scripture is our failure to recognize God’s work among us. In Acts, Peter declares that the death of Jesus happened because his fellow Israelites acted in ignorance. The psalmist decries the fact that so many people follow lies, yet God’s blessings for the faithful continue unhindered. John tells his audience to expect that the world will not recognize them as God’s children because the world did not recognize God to begin with. In Luke, Jesus appears to his doubting disciples. He proves the reality of his resurrection by allowing them to touch his body and by eating food in their presence. Only then do they feel certain that they recognize him. In what places in our lives do we not recognize God’s work?
Read Acts 3:12-19. Recall a moment when you felt the presence of Christ in your life in an unexpected way. How does that moment stay with you in the times when you feel overwhelmed?
Read Psalm 4. Do you feel free to cry out to God when you are in distress? If not, what inhibits you?
Read 1 John 3:1-7. How does your identity as a child of God empower you to deeds of love in your daily life?
Read Luke 24:36b-48. What story of the risen Christ do you have to share with others? How will you share your story?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.