Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mennonite Daily Readings/Devotionals For Saturday, 29 January


Daily Readings and Devotionals:

A Sip of Scripture

Daily Scripture:


The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost.

Reference: 1 Timothy 1:15

1 Timothy 1:15 (New King James Version)

15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.

<< Scripture for 1/28/2011


Glimpses of God's Hand

Carol Honderich invites you to study the lives of women of the Bible with her in a twice-monthly column.

Glimpses of God's Hand

Reflections on God's hand at work in the lives of women of the Bible

Sharing a Tent With Sarah

Genesis 11:27 Genesis 23

God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” Genesis 17:15-16.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “ plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

The first mention of Sarah in the Bible (Genesis 11:29-30) tells us two things: she was Abraham’s wife and she was “childless because she was not able to conceive.” Sarah’s struggle with infertility is not the only such story in the Bible. Rachel, Hannah, Ruth and Elizabeth all shared this difficult situation. In Bible times the inability to conceive was considered the problem and weakness of the woman. Without a way to continue her family line, the barren woman lived in a tenuous state. We can only imagine the disappointment, sense of failure, frustration and grief that Sarah would have experienced, month after month, year upon year, not being able to conceive a child.

At the age of 65, Sarah was still a woman of great beauty. Her loveliness opened doors in difficult situations, smoothed the way, and created opportunities for Abraham as they traveled to the land God told them to inhabit. Sarah left her homeland and family to follow her 75-year-old husband to this land of God’s promise, where God said he would create a great nation with Abraham’s offspring, and with the assurance that Abraham would become a channel of blessing to all nations of the world. Throughout the chapters of Genesis, God repeated his promises to Abraham, that he would be the father of a great nation, and Abraham believed – but what about Sarah?

Sarah watched Abraham build monuments in each sacred place where God had spoken to him. Surely, Sarah wanted to believe God’s promises, too, but the land God gave them was already occupied, and the family God promised could not come from her barren body. How difficult it must have been for Sarah to hear Abraham talk of his encounters with God and of God’s plans for them, and yet not see the fulfillment of it.

Sarah longed to be part of God’s plan, too, but now in her 70s, there was still no child. Finally, Sarah thought she understood what her role needed to be in helping God fulfill his promises to Abraham. When her own body failed her, Sarah turned to her servant girl Hagar, and offered Hagar to Abraham as the solution to Sarah’s infertility. And Abraham said yes.

In her tent, I imagine Sarah weeping after entrusting Hagar to Abraham. I imagine tears of frustration at her barrenness and her age, mixed with tears of hope for the future, and tears of fear at the possible outcome of this proposition. Sarah saw this as her only way for a child, her only hope to realize God’s promise of a family for them. If Sarah thought she could accept this method of resolving her childless state, how much more bitter were her tears after Hagar conceived Abraham’s child, and then turned against Sarah? Hagar’s pregnancy confirmed two things for Sarah – that Hagar was able to conceive when Sarah could not, and that the relationship of mistress and servant would never be the same.

In her tent, Sarah held this bitter cup of betrayal – betrayed by her own body; betrayed by Hagar, her own servant girl; by her husband who now loved this wild boy of Hagar’s womb; and betrayed by God whose promises had not come. And from her tent, she watched as three strangers approached. She watched as the old man Abraham rushed to greet them and offer hospitality, and heard them mock her barrenness even as she prepared a meal for them. Yes, she laughed. She was 89 years old, and they now promised a child by this time next year, a son from her own body. She laughed at the pain of it, at the ridiculousness of it. Of course she laughed.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “ plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Posted 1/29/2011 7:00:00 AM

Carol Honderich

Mennonite Church USA

Other posts by Carol Honderich

In addition to working as an event facilitator for Mennonite Church USA, Carol enjoys combining her love of Bible study with quilting, speaking, teaching, designing faith-based quilts and finding ways to build community around quilt activities and Bible study. Her quilting adventures include leading annual quilt/spiritual retreats and in 2008 traveling to Mongolia to teach quilting at a women’s center there. Carol is mother to three young adults and lives in Goshen, Indiana with her husband Martin.

Related Blog

A Simple Desire

The weblog "a simple desire" provides brief commentaries on "A Sip of Scripture" from a Mennonite perspective, The commentaries are written by Carole Boshart, of Oregon; Will Fitzgerald, of Michigan; and others on occasion.

Short commentary on “A Sip of Scripture” from Third Way Cafe

A Sure and Worthy Saying

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“The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. “ ( 1 Timothy 1:15 )

[Acknowledging the fact that there are many kinds of mission, today we are looking at and considering mission as the spending the good news and the forgiveness of sin through the word of God]

Evangelical mission, at its very beginning, starts at a very vulnerable and personal place. It starts with you. Before you can reach out to others with the news of salvation and redemption, you need to accept and acknowledge the fact that you need it yourself. Many an evangelical preacher, from Bill Graham through Pat Robertson and to the extremists such as Jerry Falwell would say they are sinners who would be without hope were it not for God’s love, mercy, forgiveness. They might not say it quite that way, but neither do I think they would claim to being without sin.

Paul, in this passage from 1 Timothy claims the dubious honor of being the foremost amongst sinners. But from his letters you can also say he was one of the foremost in following the word and message of Jesus and God. You may not agree with all of his theology, but you cannot argue with his fervor.

Not everyone is called to evangelical mission, the preaching and spreading directly of the word of salvation. Saving “lost souls” is not the only type of mission there is. In fact, salvation mission is a small part of the mission work that goes on in the world. True, many people are brought to God and accept the Lord in their lives. And much of that can be attributed to mission work. But much of that time the aim of mission work is not accumulating saved souls, but helping and enhancing the lives of others because of God’s love. Missionaries (if I can use such a generic and all-encompassing word) are in mission because they desire to spread God’s love. And they do that by living along side others, helping them and sharing in their burdens and cares.

The difference, one hopes, is that the missionary is willing to do this, and able to do this despite desperate and drastic conditions because God in in their lives. If you and your next door neighbor are both suffering, but your neighbor is able to persevere where you are foundering, you might ask why he/she is able to do this. And maybe, just maybe, you might want that Divine help and intervention for yourself.

But we are drifting to discussion about another type of mission work. Here and today we are considering the mission work that Paul did, and that others do today. Leading people from a life that is lived in sin and misery(?) to a life that is dedicated to God and Jesus Christ.

You, missional reader, may not be the foremost of sinners, but I would hazard a guess that you are not the most perfect of saints. May you accept the salvation and redemption of Christ in your life, and may you present in your own way this message to others. Selah!

Written by Carole

January 29, 2011 at 12:06 am


Related Website

Soul Space

You are invited to take some time each day for "Soul Space," written by Wendy Miller and posted on the Eastern Mennonite University website. Each day's guidance centers around a theme for reflection and prayer drawn from the lectionary readings for the week.

Morning-Week Three

Opening the day with prayer.

Wake me up, dear God,

Help me.

Open the eyes of my soul;

Help me to see.

Open the ears of my heart;

Help me to hear.

I am slow in leaving the world of sleep.

Wake me up, dear God.

Be assured that God hears us, helps us.

These morning prayers are a signal of our desire,

our intent for the day to come.

They need not be long. We need not linger.

There will be another, more spacious time in which

to sink more deeply into prayer, reading and

reflection; to listening and responding.

Sheltering God, Abba Amma, you have brought us in safety

to this new day.

Keep us under the wings of your protection, that we may not lose sight

of your ways, nor what you are about this day.

Keep us steady in trust, hope, and love in the face of adversity.

And in all we do, direct us in the ways of your gracious and life-giving


In the name of Jesus, Immanuel, God with us. Amen.


Loving God,

Bringing light—epiphany–

Awaken my soul.

Open my eyes to see,

Help me to hear

Jesus among and within us.



Be still.

Open your awareness to God’s presence

Within and all around.

“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

Being With- Epiphany Week Four

This turning to follow Jesus takes us – from time to time – into retreat; into a place apart to be with Jesus, to listen. We listen to many voices in our world, voices which sound in the world around us, and voices which sound within us. Now we are invited to listen to Jesus.

Jesus withdraws away from the crowd, and walks up “the mountain” – a familiar place of retreat and solitude for him and those he invites to join him (see Matthew 5:1 and Mark 3:13) and the disciples come to sit with him. As Jesus sits, he indicates that he has something to teach them. As we enter the gospel narrative, we are also invited to sit alongside the disciples and to listen as Jesus addresses them – and us.

He begins teaching us about happiness, the happiness of this “kingdom come near”, the gracious Way of God. What he says is in direct contrast with what the world tells us about finding happiness. To begin with we may find what Jesus says rather impossible: wise, maybe, but not reachable in some way. But Jesus is not looking for instant results. He knows that as this kind of teaching, this light that he brings into our darkness and deep longings, works and brings transformation over time—even for these early disciples this was so. And so it is for us.

This is the New Order of Happiness – the great joy we discover and experience here in the midst of this present world order – this side of Eden. For in this present world we do know what is like

to be poor in spirit – to be vulnerable, disabled.

to mourn – to grieve many losses

to experience the power of meekness and gentleness in surprising ways

to long for everything to be put right, to thirst for peace and justice for all

to experience mercy, forgiveness in the most surprising places

to be blessed by those who work for true peace: within and without

to hear the stories of those who have suffered persecution, hate,

retaliation, because of their love for Jesus, for the Way of God.

Sometimes those stories are our own.

What we are surprised by is how Jesus opens up the door of heaven and ushers hilarity and great happiness into these empty, dark places of weakness and disability, loss and grief, meekness and gentleness, deep and painful longing for peace and justice, the grueling work for peace within and among us, and even into the places of suffering, rejection, hate, retaliation because of love for Jesus.

We may wonder where the link is. How could this happen? Even our question is a prayer which Jesus hears. We learn to follow Jesus, to speak our questions, to live with the questions and the unknown – until Jesus guides us, helps us live into the answers. For this light he sheds upon the deep shadows of the world system, also brings light to the inner rooms and corners of our soul and understanding.

This is the work of the Spirit of God within and among us.

The invitation is to keep listening – as we sit with Jesus, and as the Spirit of God indwells and sits with us.

Prayer before reading:

Lord Jesus Christ,

You come to us.

Help me to see as you see,

To recognize your presence,

And your call

To follow you.

Guide me, us as I learn to walk in your way.

Read slowly. Listen deeply. Indwell the scripture.

Scripture Guide:

Season of Epiphany: Week Four

» 1/24 Monday: Matthew 5:1-12

» 1/25 Tuesday: Matthew 5:1-12

» 1/26 Wednesday: Psalm 15

» 1/27 Thursday: Micah 6:1-8

» 1/28 Friday: I Corinthians 1:18-31

» 1/29 Saturday: Matthew 5:1-12

Matthew 5:1-12 (King James Version)

Matthew 5

1And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:

2And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

3Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

5Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

6Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

7Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

8Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

9Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

10Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

12Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.


The third movement within Soul Space is Responding. Here we shift our focus towards outward engagement.







Pray for the coming day, and for God’s servants who are bringing good news, healing and hope in the world, especially for ___________________________ (persons you desire to pray for).

Loving God,

You are Lord of the harvest, and Owner of the farm.

Thank you for calling _____________________ to co-labor with You in the field of this world.

Help ___________________ this day to know your voice and guidance, to be led and empowered by your Spirit, and protected from all that is against you and your work in the world. May your kingdom come, and your will be done in their life and in the lives of those they companion into your gracious love and salvation.

In the name of Jesus, Savior, Emmanuel.



Pray for the coming day, and for the alienated world in which we live.

Lord Jesus,

You who came among us,

moving into the painful fractures of our cultures

offering the healing invitation of the Kingdom,

walk into the lonely chasms in our world,

our nation, our cities, our households.


help me feel the sadness and pain of persons

who are suffering because of terrorism, hate crimes, war, prejudice.

Soften my heart with your sorrow and compassion.

Lord Jesus,

walk among us by your Spirit. I bring to

you this day, for your care, release, and healing:

persons who are victims of violence, of greed, of addictions; ___________________________

prisoners of war, of illness, old age, famine and hunger; _______________________

people who are homeless and suffering, who have lost family, friends, neighbors,

because of storms, earthquakes, floods. ____________________________

People who grieve, Whose hearts weep, Whose bodies suffer. ________________________

Comfort and heal through your goodness and provision, healing and hope, as I pray and wait in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Lord Jesus, Emmanuel,

God with us,

May your kingdom come

And your gracious will be done,

In the earth of our lives in this world

As it is in heaven.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


Evening- Week Three

It is a good thing . . .

To tell of your loving-kindness early in the morning

And of your faithfulness in the night season.

Kind Spirit of God,

As I come to the end of this day,

Help me to see this day as you see,

To hear voice of Jesus in what I see and hear.

Read the psalm for this week’s lectionary readings.



As I reflect back on this day . . .

For what am I thankful?

In what way have I cooperated with God in bringing justice to the oppressed

freedom to persons who are captive

sight to those who cannot see

relief and support to those who are bowed down

support and comfort to the orphan and widow . . .?

Where have I been aware of your help and faithful companioning?

What do I bring for your holding and tending?

Closing Prayer

Caring and loving God, I bring all of this day—all the pieces that fit, and all the parts that are unfinished and in need of tending, in my own life and in the lives of those I have touched this day. As we sleep this night, continue to work your way of justice for those who are oppressed, and freedom for those who are captive. Bring sight to those who cannot see, and relief and comfort to the poor and needy.

In the name of Jesus, who was born in nakedness and poverty among us, and who brings us the good news of your gracious reign, now and coming.


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