Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well, and that this devotion finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy!
In order to be renewed and personally prepare for the re-opening of my personal and church commitments, I will be taking a Sabbath rest for the month of August. May the words of today’s devotion linger with you throughout August and may you join me in a renewed commitment to the Lord and his Church in the upcoming months. In His love and mine, Brenda
Readings for August, 2021: Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
Exodus 16:2-15; Psalm 145:10-21; Ephesians 4:1-16; John 6:22-35
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13
Just a couple months before the pandemic began, our pastor resigned and our church went into a vacancy. To this day, we are still without a permanent pastor to shepherd us. Thanks be to God we have had a wonderfully patient, flexible and faithful vacancy pastor who has lead us – in person or virtually -through this entire pandemic.
Being without a permanent shepherd is difficult. Trying to grow in God’s truth without the support of a church family and the leadership of a called shepherd is difficult. There is a reason the church exists and that each church has a shepherd. They exist because God created them for the sake of his people- for you and for me. God did not, and still does not, desire us to walk our Christian walk alone. We are to be in fellowship with one another, support one another, love one another, learn with one another, and commune with one another. And we are to have pastors and teachers – servants of the church- to guide and lead us in God’s word and to administer the sacraments to us.
Although the pandemic has brought many people to God’s word to seek answers and help them in their times of trouble, it has also allowed the perfect setting for Satan to beat down our shepherds and to scatter the sheep. There are a few of my friends from different denominations in different churches who have experienced their pastor leaving the church since the pandemic started. If you think Satan has played with your mind, just think how hard he has worked on our shepherds. “Get those pesky shepherds out of the way and those dumb sheep will be putty in my hands,” he’s been saying to himself. And unfortunately he’s been successful with some.
Then there are the sheep – us- who have been trying to worship virtually, without the fellowship and voices of our brothers and sisters. There are the reduced opportunities to receive communion at the hands of our shepherds while in communion with one another. Then there’s the joyous chorus of hymns sung, the baptisms, the children and young families, the elderly and vulnerable that have seemingly disappeared as the months dragged on. Yes, Satan has had a hay day in the church over the past year and a half. But as we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, let us put a stop to it!
Whether you began seeking the Lord and renewing your relationship with him during the pandemic, or were a faithful follower before it began, I beg you to join me in being committed to a church renewal. If you didn’t have a church home before, seek one out by talking to a friend or family member you trust and respect who does have a church home. Then together we need to commit to praying for our shepherds, our church leaders, and attending worship to give thanks and praise to the Lord that we made it to this point, to receive first hand his blessings of word and sacrament, and to be enveloped by our church families with whom we will grow in God’s truth, learn to use the gifts he has blessed us with, and share his saving grace to those around us by shining the light of Christ in our lives.
Together, if we all made this commitment to be active members of the Lord’s body and to support our shepherds, then and only then can we combat the schemes with which Satan has been plying the church. Yes, Satan may have been winning many battles in the Church throughout the pandemic, but the victory remains ours in Christ, and in his strength, His Church in the 21st century can be stronger and shine brighter than it has in decades.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for bringing us through the pandemic. May the worst be behind us. Please, continue to heal our province, our country, our world. Be with our shepherds. Strengthen them like you did Moses, to lead your people in the days to come. From this day on, along with my church family, “I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.” (Psalm 145:1-2) AMEN!