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Scripture Reading

Today, September 15th, 2020

Pausing for Prayer:

You’re invited to meditate on the Bible passage for today, and then join others at 12:00 p.m. for silent prayer or whenever you can.

Bible Passage for the Day:  Isaiah 53:4-5

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 

Praying Together:

The passage from Isaiah is attributed to Jesus, and in it we see two qualities that defined his life and ministry: humility and compassion through what he suffered. If we choose to be followers of Jesus will suffer, and not only is it inevitable, but is necessary for our own transformation into the Image of Christ for others.  Richard Rohr writes, “Until there has been a journey through suffering, I don’t believe that we have true healing authority. We don’t have the ability to lead anybody anyplace new unless we have walked it ourselves to some degree. In general, we can only lead people on the spiritual journey as far as we ourselves have gone. We simply can’t talk about it beyond that. That’s why the best thing we can do for people is to stay on the journey ourselves. We transform people to the degree we have been transformed. When we can somehow be compassion, not just talk about compassion; when we can be healed and not just talk about healing, then we are, as Henri Nouwen said so well, “wounded healers,” but not before. As you reflect on the passage, how has God used your suffering or how can God use your current suffering to make you more humble and compassionate.  End with the Lord’s Prayer.  

 

September 11th, 2020

Pausing for Prayer:

 

You’re invited to meditate on the Bible passage for today, and then join others at 12:00 p.m. for silent prayer or whenever you can.

 

Bible Passage for the Day:  Jeremiah 22:3 

 

This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the immigrant, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. 

 

Praying Together:

 

The Hebrew word for justice is mishpat and it is mentioned over 200 times in the Hebrew Scriptures and is always associated with the immigrant, widow, fatherless and poor. The reason why we care about justice and those who are most vulnerable is because God cares about them, and those who exploit others or simply turn a blind eye to injustice will be judged in the end says God. So where do we begin? The first step is to ask God to help you see the injustice that is around you. The second step is to reach out to those people whom God has put on your heart. Justice begins by reaching out to the oppressed and establishing a relationship with them, and that begins by listening to their story.  I never really understood what African American people were saying when they spoke of systemic racism until I lived in their community and listened to their stories. Making a connection with oppressed people can be difficult during covid, but we can still read about their stories. So again, ask the Holy Spirit to put on your heart someone who is suffering injustice today, and help you to find creative ways that you can listen to their stories.  End with the Lord’s Prayer.  

 

September 8th, 2020

Pausing for Prayer:

You’re invited to meditate on the Bible passage for today, and then join others at 12:00 p.m. for silent prayer or whenever you can.

Bible Passage for the Day: John 8:1-8

At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

Praying Together:

There is an old proverb that says, “Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.” The meaning of the proverb is that we should not heap judgements upon others, when we are guilty for our own sin. When the religious leaders brought the woman who had committed adultery before Jesus their goal was not to correct her behavior and restore her, it was to condemn her and use her to entrap Jesus. We don’t know what Jesus wrote with his finger in the dirt, but one commentary suggested that he was writing out all of the sins that the religious leaders had committed in secret – or so they thought. Forgiveness is something that must first begin within the heart of each person, so as you reflect on the passage for today in invite the Holy Spirit to reveal the sins that are at work in your mind and heart. Then, with a sincere heart pray that you will experience the same grace Jesus extended to the woman in our passage for today. When you do, you will find that you will be much more compassionate to those around you.   End with the Lord’s Prayer.  

September 3rd, 2020

Pausing for Prayer:

You’re invited to meditate on the Bible passage for today, and then join others at 12:00 p.m. for silent prayer or whenever you can.

Bible Passage for the Day:  Psalm 2:11

Sever the Lord with fear, and celebrate his rule with trembling  

Praying Together: 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always struggled with those Old Testament passages that say we are to “fear” the Lord. What makes me feel so uneasy is that it seems to portray a God who is just waiting for you to mess up, and then give you the business. But that’s not the God that Jesus Christ reveals on the cross. The God that Jesus reveals is one who is abounding in steadfast love and mercy. So then, how are we to understand what it means to fear the Lord? When I was in seminary I read a book written by Rudolf Otto who was a German Lutheran theologian. He said the lens through which we need to look when considering what it means to fear the Lord is the mysterium tremendum! At this point you may be saying to yourself, “what?” Basically, Otto says that when we think about and experience the beauty, majesty, and grace of God it produces a fear in the sense of being in awe. In that moment when you are confronted with the grandeur of God and your own insignificance you tremble at the awesomeness of the living God. A beautiful description of the mysterium tremendum is the call of Isaiah in Chapter 6:1-7 (try to read through it today). As you meditate on the scripture today, invite the Holy Spirit to create a sense of awe within you.   End with the Lord’s Prayer.  

September 1st, 2020

Pausing for Prayer:

You’re invited to meditate on the Bible passage for today, and then join others at 12:00 p.m. for silent prayer or whenever you can.

Bible Passage for the Day: Galatians 5:13-18

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge your [ego]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of your [ego]. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to your [ego]. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are [free].

Praying Together:

The great demonic myth that many Americans have bought in to is that of the rugged individual: that somehow we are self-made; that we can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps no matter what; that we can define for ourselves who we are and the purpose of our life. When we think this way Paul says that we are not guided by the Spirit of God, but by our own “egos” or “small self.” When our ego’s are in control Christianity just become another tool to prove our value and worth to God and others, but such an attitude just breads conflict and division within the church and society. Merton says that the ego is the root of all sin: “All sin starts from the assumption that my false self, the self that exists only in my own egocentric desires, is the fundamental reality of life to which everything else in the universe is ordered. Thus I use up my life in the desire for pleasures and the thirst for experiences, for power, honor, knowledge and love, to clothe this false self and construct its nothingness into something objectively real. And I wind experiences around myself and cover myself with pleasures and glory like bandages in order to make myself perceptible to myself and to the world, as if I were an invisible body that could only become visible when something visible covered its surface.” As you meditate on the passage for today, invite the Holy Spirit to illuminate the areas of your life motivated by your ego, and invite the Holy Spirit to help you rediscover your true self in God.  End with the Lord’s Prayer.  

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Pastor Fred Hanson

August 31st, 2020

Pausing for Prayer:

You’re invited to meditate on the Bible passage for today, and then join others at 12:00 p.m. for silent prayer or whenever you can.

Bible Passage for the Day: Ephesians 2:4-9

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 

Praying Together:

At the core of our being, in the depth of our soul resides our true self – the person that God created us to be. Thomas Merton beautifully describes how God began to reveal his own true self through grace. Of his own conversion he writes, “At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. It is so to speak [God’s] name written in us, as our poverty, as our indigence, as our dependence, as our [birthright]. It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely. . . . I have no program for this seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere.” As you meditate on the Bible passage and words of Merton, invite the Holy Spirit to illuminate your true self more clearly. End with the Lord’s Prayer.  

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Pastor Fred Hanson

August 28th, 2020

Pausing for Prayer:

You’re invited to meditate on the Bible passage for today, and then join others at 12:00 p.m. for silent prayer or whenever you can.

Bible Passage for the Day: Zechariah 2:10-13

“Shout and be glad, Daughter Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the Lord. “Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. The Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem. Be still before the Lord, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.” 

Praying Together:

One of the most important spiritual disciplines we need to live into as Christians is something called the “practice of presence of Christ” which enables someone to experience Jesus in the midst of daily tasks and relationships. Marjorie Thompson writes, “Do you believe that Jesus is present in the smile of a child, in the hearts of a parent’s grief over a suffering adolescent, in the sudden breakthrough of understanding between quarreling spouses? Eternal truth can be learned by observing the most common elements of life: nursing and infant may be a window onto Jesus’ nurturing care for each of us; bandaging a cut can help us know the healing desire of Christ; playing games may speak of the divine playfulness that know our need for recreation, of tending a garden may teach us the dynamics of growth. As you mediated on the passage today, invite Jesus to be with you so that the ordinary may become sacred.  End with the Lord’s Prayer.  

 
Pastor Fred Hanson

August 25th, 2020

Pausing for Prayer:

You’re invited to meditate on the Bible passage for today, and then join others at 12:00 p.m. for silent prayer or whenever you can.

Bible Passage for the Day: Jeremiah 3:19-20

“How gladly would I treat you like my children and give you a pleasant land, the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.’ I thought you would call me ‘Father’ and not turn away from following me. But like a spouse who is unfaithful, so you, Israel, have been unfaithful to me,” declares the Lord.

Praying Together:

When I grew up the words that I often heard attributed to God were all powerful; all knowing; all present. They give the impression that God is impervious and above human emotion or feeling, but the image of God that Jeremiah reveals to us is a God who is deeply connected to His people on a very emotional level and a God who is willing to become vulnerable – essentially a God who suffers and is willing to suffer. In the passage above the relationship between God and His people is that of a marriage; a marriage in which God has always been faithful, and Israel has not. Have you ever been cheated on? Have you ever been rejected, discarded or “unfriended” by someone? If so, you can identify with God’s pain and that’s the point. When we think about the suffering in the world we often wonder where is God in all of it? Or, where is God when I’m suffering, but have you ever spent some time wondering and meditating upon the pain and suffering that God sees and experiences each day? As you think about all of the suffering that God sees and experiences on a daily basis, ask the Holy to help you to see how you might be able to ease God’s pain today, and bring some joy to God?  End with the Lord’s Prayer.  

August 24th, 2020

Pausing for Prayer:

You’re invited to meditate on the Bible passage for today, and then join others at 12:00 p.m. for silent prayer or whenever you can.

Bible Passage for the Day:  1 Corinthians 12:21-26

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 

Praying Together:

When I lived in North Dakota, I served one day a week at the hospital in Grand Forks as a Chaplin. I remember my supervising pastor telling me, “Fred, when you visit people they don’t want you to try and fix their problems. What they want is for someone to get down in the pit with them so they’ll know they’re not alone, and sometimes the most effective ministry is when you say very little at all – just be present.” I think that’s what Paul is getting at when he says, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it…” As you meditate on the passage today, ask God to reveal to you someone who is suffering and how you can be present for them today.  End with the Lord’s Prayer.  

August 21st, 2020

Pausing for Prayer:

You’re invited to meditate on the Bible passage for today, and then join others at 12:00 p.m. for silent prayer or whenever you can.

Bible Passage for the Day: Matthew 5:9

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Praying Together:

There is a big difference between peace loving and peacemaking. There is no cost with simply loving the idea of peace, but there is a cost that comes with being a peacemaker. Jesus embodies what it means to be a peacemaker, and when Jesus says that we are to carry our cross that is exactly what he is talking about. In the Lutheran church we love to emphasize that we are children of God, and if that is true then the one defining characteristic of our faith is that when people watch us they will witness a peacemaker – reconciling people to God and to each other. The world needs peacemakers now more than ever. I’m not sure of their motivation, but there are people among us that seem to thrive on peddling fear and stroking their own egos, and they get off on intimidating others and creating division – a clear sign of the antichrist and those who share his spirit.  But that is not our calling. Our calling as children of God and peacemakers is to live into the prayer of Francis of Assisi: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.” How is God calling you to be a peacemaker today?  End with the Lord’s Prayer. 

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Pastor Fred Hanson

August 18th, 2020

Pausing for Prayer:

You’re invited to meditate on the Bible passage for today, and then join others at 12:00 p.m. for silent prayer or whenever you can.

Bible Passage for the Day: Matthew 23:37-38

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 38 Look, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’

Praying Together:

It may seem strange, but I believe that we can experience hope and discouragement at the same time. I feel that when I listen to Jesus speaking in Matthew 23 as he enters Jerusalem for the last time, and in every one of his teachings during Holy Week. Even to the end as he prays in the Garden of Gethsemane he not only sees the cross before him, but still hopes that there might be another way for him to “gather the chicks under his wings.” I have certainly had times in my life and ministry when, I too, have experienced hope and discouragement at the same time, have you? But in life, sometimes things don’t turn out the way we hoped they would, and it can leave us feeling confused and hurting. However, as Richard Rohr says in life and faith there is a pattern of order, disorder and reordering, and we can see that, as well, in the life of Jesus: His ministry, death on the cross, and resurrection. I always need to remind myself that even though things might not turn out as I had expected or hoped, through the discouragement and disorder of it all new life will emerge in ways that I cannot comprehend and perceive in the moment. As you meditate and pray, think back on a time when God brought forth new life or a renewed hope through times of discouragement.   End with the Lord’s Prayer. 

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Pastor Fred Hanson

August 17th, 2020

Pausing for Prayer:

You’re invited to meditate on the Bible passage for today, and then join others at 12:00 p.m. for silent prayer or whenever you can.

Bible Passage for the Day:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Praying Together:

Charles de Foucauld writes, “The hour in our life in which we are best employed is the hour in which we best love Jesus. A soul does good to others not in the measure of its knowledge or intelligence but in that of its holiness. For me, all [people] should be enveloped, in God’s sight, in the same love and the same indifference. I must no more trouble about health or life than a tree troubles about a failing leaf.” For Charles the person that is enveloped in the love of God is only attracted to those things that are of God and indifferent to those things that are not. In this we live lives that are holy. That holiness that Charles speaks of does not come by way of knowledge or effort, but by allowing the Holy Spirit to fill every member of your being with God’s love to the extent that it radiates through you. As you meditate on the passage for today, think about Jesus as the “way” to live into this kind of holiness, and invite the Holy Spirit to fill you with his love.”  End with the Lord’s Prayer. 

 
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Pastor Fred Hanson

August 10th, 2020

Pausing for Prayer:

You’re invited to meditate on the Bible passage for today, and then join others at 12:00 p.m. for silent prayer or whenever you can.

Bible Passage for the Day: Ephesians 2:4-10  

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Praying Together:

In his book, Embracing the Love of God, James Smith writes, “For too long I was impressed with my ‘commitment’ to Christ; now I am only impressed with Christ’s commitment to me. My previous focus had been on my ‘decision’ for Jesus; now I am concentrating on his decision for me…by shifting the focus away from myself and onto Christ and his love for me, I have noticed that everything comes into view. When Martin Luther was suffering under the weight of guilt, his spiritual director, Johnannes Staupitz, said, ‘Martin, quit looking at your sin and start looking at Jesus.” When Luther turned from himself and to Jesus his whole life was transformed and the seeds of the Reformation were sown. As you meditate on the passage, invite the Holy Spirit to lift your eyes to Jesus and see how he looks at you – with kindness, with love and with mercy!  End with the Lord’s Prayer. 

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Pastor Fred Hanson

 

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