WHAT DOES GOD WANT NOW?

Words We Need NowHe has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

 

Today, we are living in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic. My husband and I are retired; the “social distancing” and “sheltering-in-place” have not been as disruptive to our daily lives as they have to the lives of our children and grandchildren and many others. We pray for several family members who are on the front lines of this crisis—medical care providers and others performing essential tasks. But just yesterday, my husband asked me, “What do you think God wants us to think about this pandemic? What does He want us to know now?” Some thoughts we voiced to each other were: “The whole world is in this together.” “Shared suffering requires us to be vulnerable, to let the suffering of others impact us in a personal way.” “God wants us to pay attention to what’s important in life.”

 

As we shared our thoughts and said some prayers for those closest to our hearts, I remembered the simple admonition from the prophet Micah: “What does God require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” These words did seem simple a couple of weeks ago. But as we are being asked not to interact with others in our communities, workplaces, shops, restaurants—how are we supposed to show justice and mercy to others?

 

I’ve heard it said that only two paths lead us to a personal relationship with God: the path of love and the path of suffering. If most of us are honest with ourselves, those paths may have been intertwined throughout our faith journey, because loving something or someone deeply almost always involves some pain. The concepts in Micah’s challenge, “justice” and “mercy,” both arise from some passion to help someone outside of ourselves. That passion cannot be pain-free; but it is love that carries us through the pain to do our best to provide the help needed.

 

Great God, hear our anguished prayers! Bless and sustain those on the front lines of this battle. Stir the rest of us to support them with prayers and words and deeds of encouragement as we are able. Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan tells stories of wisdom, strength, fear, joy and risk-taking. Daughter of a raging alcoholic mother, and survivor of sexual assault at gunpoint, Corrigan has shaken a dismal past and flung herself into the arms of Christ, Who sustains her in her daily walk of grace. She shares with her listeners her incredible story of surviving and thriving through many trials during her seven decades walking this fragile earth. She has been described as a Renaissance Woman, integrating her formal training in psychology and counseling, an enlightening experience as a percussionist for a Polynesian show troupe, and most recently as an inspirational author and blogger, to the delight of all who read her work and hear her speak. Her exposure to many life experiences has enriched her passion for spreading Christ’s word and helping other trauma survivors. She has a master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling and thirty-plus years of experience in the field of counseling and social work.  She lives in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, with the love of her life, Patrick, and their formerly disenfranchised rescue dog Ginger. www.MegCorrigan.com    MegCorrigan@comcast.net

 

A NEW LENTEN FAST

Fasting-black-and-white-1Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Isaiah 58:6

 

In the Christian church, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends about six weeks, or forty days later, on Maundy Thursday, when Christ shared a last meal with His disciples before going to the cross. Lent is often associated with fasting, particularly Christ’s forty-day period of fasting and temptation (Matthew 4:1-11). Many Christians still observe some type of food fasting during Lent, perhaps giving up some special treat for the six-week period. Fewer folks will actually skip meals. I have given up chocolate many times, but I’ve eaten my share of sweets during Lent to make up for the loss of sugar in my diet. But Pope Francis has come up with some ideas for a different type of “fast” during the forty days following Ash Wednesday. Here is his list for this year:

 

Fast from hurting words and say kind words.

Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.

Fast from anger and be filled with patience.

Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.

Fast from worries and have trust in God.

Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.

Fast from pressures and be prayerful.

Fast from bitterness and fill you hearts with joy.

Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others.

Fast from grudges and be reconciled.

Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.

 

I think Pope Francis is on to something, and his ideas might be harder to implement than giving up food items! Imagine if we each could stick to even half of his list of things from which to abstain! Wouldn’t this world be a better place for at least six weeks? And what if the items on the list became a habit rather than a short-term project? This is certainly something to think about! As Isaiah says in Chapter 58 of the book by his name, the fast God wants is for us “to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke.”  Let’s try Pope Francis’ idea of a meaningful fast this year!

 

Lord, we thank You for suffering through many trials on this earth, all for us! Amen

 

Alone on a Colorado mountain, Meg Corrigan faced the unthinkable, a situation that almost ended her life. Hear the details of her astounding rescue from the hands of a gun-wielding attacker and how she walked off that mountain. Hers is a story of tragedy turned holy, a journey of sorrow and healing, a powerful message of hope in the darkest hour. In her memoir, Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child, Meg credits her resilience to the grace of God. She is also the author of Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist, tales based on her years as a drummer in a Hawaiian show band; and Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, released this month. Meg is a retired college counselor, author, speaker, trainer and sexual assault survivor. She speaks to churches, civic groups, college students, mental health professionals and law enforcement personnel, as well as youth in juvenile facilities. Corrigan lives in Lake Elmo, Minnesota with her husband, Patrick and their formerly disenfranchised rescue dog Ginger. She loves to coax seemingly dead plants out of the soil in her yard. The couple have four daughters, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Contact her at MegCorrigan@comcast.net or www.MegCorrigan.com .

WORLD PEACE

World Peace FlagsI urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 1 Timothy 2:1-2

 

World Peace? How is it possible to imagine that in today’s world? According to worldpopulationsreview.com, “As of 2018, there are…a total of fifty nations that have a dictator or authoritarian regime ruling the nation to this day. Europe is home to one.., while three…can be found in Latin America and South America…,eight…in Asia, seven in the Eurasian region of the world, and twelve…from the northern parts of Africa to the Middle East.” And worldatlas.com reports Syria is the most war-torn country in the world, followed by Iraq and Afghanistan; other countries experiencing “war” (including threats from other nations, civil unrest, gang and drug conflicts, etc.) today include Ukraine, Yemen, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mexico, and Central African Republic. Many other nations are dealing with ongoing political partisanship, the rise of hate groups, and religious and human rights battles among their populace. The concept of world peace seems further away than it did even a decade ago.

 

1 Timothy above among our daily readings for today. I remembered that Jesus came into this world during a time of political and civil unrest. At the time of Christ’s birth, Israel was an occupied nation, under the strong arm of the Roman government. The Romans, in concert with the Jewish religious leaders of the day, executed Jesus on false charges. The Romans were still in power when Paul’s protégé Timothy was a leader in the Christian church at Ephesus (now modern Turkey). Paul urged Timothy to pray “for kings and all those in authority” in the hope that these prayers would bring “peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” It’s hard to think of strong-arm governments like the Roman Empire allowing the people to live “peaceful and quiet lives!” Indeed, the Romans sought to keep the people in line!

 

Paul’s admonitions apply today as well. We must continue to pray that world leaders will take their responsibilities seriously. We can pray fervently that leaders who see themselves above their people will have a change of heart and move towards compassion for others.

 

Lord, heal this broken world, we pray! Bring all nations into “peaceful and quiet lives.” Amen

 

Meg Blaine Corrigan finds ideas for her devotional blogs in everyday places and events, from comic strips to magazines and books, comments on the fly from people she meets, ancient memories of her childhood, and nigglings from God. To date, she has written nearly 700 different devotions, filling one book of daily readings, Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, published in 2015. Meg is working on a second book (Saints TWO) which she had hoped would be completed by now. She posts once a week, which means in seven years, she will have enough entries to fill a second book. Sometimes life gets in the way of writing, so Meg is pacing herself, enjoying spending time with her husband, their four daughters and spouses, ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, as well as their rescue dog, Bassett/Beagle mix Ginger. Meg is involved in volunteer work at her church, Christ Lutheran in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, and also with sexual violence/sex trafficking prevention and education. She speaks to groups whenever she if offered the opportunity. She is a voracious reader of other people’s writing, which gives her lots of ideas for more devotional blogs. Read more about her at www.MegCorrigan.com or contact her at MegCorrigan@comcast.net .

WOLVES IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING

Wolf in Sheep's ClothingAnd you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. John 8:32

 

At a training seminar on child safety recently, I sat next to a woman who had just returned from missionary work in war-torn Syria. She told me how surprised she was to return to the United States and listen to national news broadcasts here. She had forgotten how sensationalistic our news programs were. In Syria, she said, the news was delivered with solemnity and very little drama, which she found refreshing. I would agree. I long for the days when newscasters like Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley reported in a straight-forward and honest fashion, without shoving microphones into traumatized people’s faces asking, “How did you feel when…?” Our national discourse has become sharper and more divisive in recent years, and it doesn’t appear to be likely to improve any time soon. The internet, for all the good things it brings us, has also made it harder to know what is true and what is a lie.  We must be careful to examine what we hear and read and be wise about what we take away from all sources available to us. The old saying goes, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” But what we “stand for” to begin with must be based on the truth and not some twisted spin on reality.

 

Jesus warned against “false prophets,” people who “will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive…even the elect” (Matthew 24:24). So even practicing Christians—the elect—with strong faith in God can become confused. Jesus added to His warning, “See, I have told you ahead of time” (v. 25). We as Christians have no excuse not to heed Christ’s warning: it is up to us to listen to the Spirit as He helps us discern the truth in this life (1 Corinthians 2:14). Albert Einstein said, “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” We will overcome the darkness of lies and false teaching by shining the light of Christ into the midst of that darkness. We must stand firm in our faith and seek God’s wisdom over that of questionable sources.

 

Jesus, You are our true Redeemer. Walk with us in the light of Your wisdom and justice. Amen

 

Alone on a Colorado mountain, Meg Corrigan faced the unthinkable, a situation that almost ended her life. Learn the details of her astounding rescue from the hands of a gun-wielding attacker and how she walked off that mountain. Hers is a story of tragedy turned holy, a journey of sorrow and healing, a powerful message of hope in the darkest hour. In her memoir, Then I Am Strong: Moving From My Mother’s Daughter to God’s Child, Meg credits her resilience to the grace of God. She is also the author of Perils of a Polynesian Percussionist, tales based on her years as a drummer in a Hawaiian show band; and Saints With Slingshots: Daily Devotions for the Slightly Tarnished But Perpetually Forgiven Christian, released this month. Meg is a retired college counselor, author, speaker, trainer and sexual assault survivor. She speaks to churches, civic groups, college students, mental health professionals and law enforcement personnel, as well as youth in juvenile facilities. She lives in Lake Elmo, Minnesota with her husband, Patrick. She loves to coax seemingly dead plants out of the soil in her yard. The couple have four daughters, ten grandchildren and a great-grandchild on the way. Contact her at MegCorrigan@comcast.net or www.MegCorrigan.com .

JOSEPH, STEP-PARENT

JOSEPHBut while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-21

 

Our Gospel lesson last Sunday morning was from Matthew 1, specifically about Joseph and his reaction to the news that his fiancé was suddenly, questionably with child. Joseph is conflicted: he is a kind man, not wishing to bring shame and even abuse on the young woman he thought he loved. But he believes he should—must—“dismiss her quietly” and move on with his own life. He knows this child that Mary carries is not his. He wants to believe her, but her story is just too preposterous! How would things go if another man suddenly came forth and claims the child as his? Imagine Joseph’s surprise when an angel of the Lord comes to him in a dream and says, “No, Joseph, you must not let Mary go! Her Child was conceived by God’s Holy Spirit, and He is coming to save the world.”

 

Some refer to Joseph as Jesus’ “foster father.” Being a step-parent myself, I must take issue with that designation. A foster parent only takes a child for a short time, presumably until a “forever family” is found for the youngster. But Joseph did, in fact, take Mary as his lawfully wedded wife, which in my book clearly makes him a step-father. I’ve never born any children, but instead, I collect other people’s kids. I married two different men who had daughters, so I became all three of their step-mothers. And I can tell you that the love and devotion I have for these three step-children, and my one adopted daughter could not be any more real if I had carried them each for nine months and brought them into this world. Joseph was signing up for the long haul, and so was I. Step-parenting is a unique relationship, but every bit as poignant as bearing natural children.

 

Jesus, You know the blessing of having Joseph choose to marry and support Your mother. Bless all non-traditional families this special season! Amen

 

Merry Christmas Mary Joseph Jesus