Subject: Daily Prayers and Scriptures: Sunday, April 26

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As we enter the third week of Easter, some regions may see an ease in stay-at-home restrictions and a re-opening of businesses, but we do not know what this means for returning to our places of worship. In this season of uncertainty, let us hold fast to what we know to be true in Christ. May we continue to find encouragement through our daily prayers, spiritual discernment, and a shared reading of the Scripture.

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Sunday, Third Week of Easter
Do Not Love the World, (1 John 2:7-17, NRSV)

Today’s Epistle lesson is selected from the Book of Common Worship: Daily Prayer (Louisville, KY:Westminster/John Knox, 1993).

2: 7 Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word that you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new commandment that is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. 9 Whoever says, “I am in the light,” while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness. 10 Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates another believer is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and does not know the way to go, because the darkness has brought on blindness.

12 I am writing to you, little children,
because your sins are forgiven on account of his name.
13 I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young people,
because you have conquered the evil one.
14 I write to you, children,
because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young people,
because you are strong
and the word of God abides in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; 16 for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.

The Lord Brings the People Justice (Isaiah 61:8-11; 62:2-4a, NRSV)

The Home Daily Bible Readings for Monday through Saturday are selected in support of the Sunday lesson in the Uniform Lessons Series, ©Spring 2020.

61: 8 For I the Lord love justice,
I hate robbery and wrongdoing;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their descendants shall be known among the nations,
and their offspring among the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge
that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.
10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.

62: 2 The nations shall see your vindication,
and all the kings your glory;
and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will give.
3 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
4 You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate;
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her. . .

Forsaken For a Brief Moment

By Rev. Dr. Tammy Wiens, Director of Christian Education and Faith Formation, National Council of Churches

DATE: April 26, 2020 © Spring Quarter, Uniform Lessons Series

For reflection: Isaiah 61:8-11; 62:2-4

In reading through the book of Isaiah, we discover that it is the city of Zion who is first to consider herself “forsaken” (Isaiah 49:14). It is only later that God uses “forsaken” (Isaiah 60:15), though it is only for a “brief moment” (Isaiah 54:7). Isaiah’s good news in 62:4, is God’s complete reversal of Zion’s identity:

You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
  and your land shall no more be termed Desolate;
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her. . .

As people in the midst of a global pandemic, could there be a more encouraging, hopeful, promise of God’s restorative justice? In every corner of every country the world over there is a community who has felt (is feeling still) “forsaken.” Like Zion, we have self-diagnosed our desolation. We can further relate to Zion’s plight in realizing that God, too, has resorted to calling us “forsaken.” Could it be for us, as it was in Isaiah’s time, that our forsakenness is only for a “brief moment”? Could we dare to hope for a time when our coronavirus infected land shall no longer be termed Desolate?

Surely, God is calling us to participate in the initiation of that imagined future. Even as we grieve the losses of loved ones and experience trauma in so many facets of daily life, what hoped for changes can we put in place toward rebuilding and recovery? Let’s not settle for a return to “business as usual.” As people of faith, let us covenant together by our prayers and by our actions to enact God’s reversal of our situation.

What can we do today to chart a course that integrates justice and peace with health and well-being, not just for some, but for all? What can we do today to set a course toward a new day when God will say, “My Delight Is in Her.”

Let us join together in offering as a prayer this third stanza of Christ is Risen!

Christ is risen! Earth and heaven
nevermore shall be the same.
Break the bread of new creation
where the world is still in pain.
Tell its grim, demonic chorus:
“Christ is risen! Get you gone!”
God the First and Last is with us.
Sing Hosanna everyone!

(Glory to God, #248, Westminster/John Knox: Louisville, KY ©2013)

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