The First Smile

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love 
and his wonderful deeds for mankind. 
Let them sacrifice thank offerings 
and tell of his works with songs of joy. Psalm 107:21-22
In our United Methodist Book of Worship, we have all sorts of prayers for every occasion. One that I cherish the most is one we often use when celebrating the life of someone who has died. The prayer begins this way, and I’ll use my own name for the sake of you hearing how that sounds. “Eternal God, you have shared with us the life of Martha. Before she was ours, she is yours.” It’s a poignant reminder that God knew us before anyone else did and God will welcome us home when life on earth is over. He sees our first smile before we arrive, and he sees our first smile as we arrive in Heaven. That makes me smile. 
I arrived in this world on August 26, and according to my mother it was happening so fast I was nearly born in an elevator. When my birthday comes around, I always call my mother to thank her. It was she who had passionately pursued the vision of a large family. She could see what others could not see. As I recall how I belonged to God before I belonged to my mother, I smile. I smile because this love and this life that God gives us is incredible. God created the world and animals and human beings and called it all good. I like to imagine that right after God said it was good, He smiled. I hope that makes you smile.

Seeking Joy

“…for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 (NRSV)

We held a super-fun event at the church on August 11 - “Chilly Night!” If you missed it, no worries, we will be hosting another event in January - “Chili Night”…yes, a little play on words and a different kind of event to encourage participation and fellowship. Our staff created these events as a way of thinking forward and to give folks the opportunity to see how God is working in the life of our church family.  

To be completely honest, we were all seeking ways to renew our strength and passion for ministry. We continue to seek ways to offer folks the opportunity to experience the joy of community and connection. Doing so is necessary when serving in ministry and allows the Holy Spirit to move in and through us to fulfill God’s will.  

Nehemiah 8:10 reminds us that true joy comes from the Lord and being in relationship with the Lord and one another. This passage tells the “after effect” of how God has delivered his people from exile and given them strength to rebuild their lives.   

Are you looking for a community and a place to connect?  I pray, this week, you will seek a deeper relationship with the Lord so that your joy and strength is rooted in God’s love and grace. 

Posted by Betsy Butler
Tags: devotion

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