One of the great joys I experienced during the three years I served as a chaplain with the YMCA was the opportunity to work alongside spiritual leaders from many denominations and faith traditions. At first, I could sense my hesitation when I encountered spiritual expressions that were different than my own tradition. But with every encounter I grew in grace. Over time, I came to deeply appreciate the faith of others. Occasionally I would get a call reporting that someone from a different tradition was in the chapel praying and asking if that was OK. The answer: Yes! What could be better than all of us praying in the same space?

A great strength of Jesus’ followers is faithfulness. We want to be faithful, and we also want to be “right.” Wanting to honor God in everything we do is wonderful. Yet sometimes our desire to be “right” causes us to question the motives or actions of others—and even to take responsibility to stop them if they are not conforming to our particular traditions or expressions. It can be hard to let that go.

But Jesus does let it go. What if we simply focus on discovering what or where the most powerful force of love and humility is in a particular situation and center our words and actions there? That kind of response might be like a cup of cold water in the heat of a desert—something a servant would offer.

Holy God, we can look at your creation and see your love for diversity in every living thing. We also know you call us to deep faithfulness—faithfulness to you. Help us to let go of wanting to control what others do and to embrace the many ways you give us to express your love in the world. We love you, and we trust that you are transforming us all, one moment at a time. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-50

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Lectionary Week
September 20–26, 2021
Scripture Overview

The Jewish people have faced possible destruction numerous times. The story begins not with the Holocaust in Europe but far back in history during the time of Esther. The wicked Haman plots to wipe out God’s people, but God saves the people through Esther’s courage. The psalmist praises God for this kind of salvation from seemingly impossible circumstances. Although we may not face genocide, we have our own struggles. James encourages us to pray with faith, believing that God can and will answer. Our prayers are powerful, James assures us. Jesus teaches us the importance of letting nothing stand between God and us. Using vivid hyperbole, he admonishes us to put the pursuit of God above everything else and to support others in that same pursuit.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22. When have you chosen to speak out in a way that made you vulnerable in order to help someone else?
Read Psalm 124. Recall a time when you had a strong sense of God’s being on your side. What was the situation? How did that assurance come?
Read James 5:13-20. How do the members of your faith community pray with and for one another?
Read Mark 9:38-50. Whoever is not against you is for you. How can you share God’s love with those outside your inner circle?

Respond by posting a prayer.