March 6, 2019 (Ash Wednesday)
“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” (John 7:24)
Do we at times make decisions and judgments too quickly? Being open to God helps us look more deeply to discern what is right for our time.
O God, keep us from hasty judgment based on our human sight. Free us from prejudice. Open us to change where change is needed. Set before us a servant of your choice. Foster true discernment. Give us the right judgment that proceeds from reliance on your Word.
March 7, 2019
“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)
Do we sometimes hear what we want to hear? Amidst the banter and noise that surround us, we may forget to listen for the voice of God.
O God, bring us to remember that the office of bishop is a call, not to be filled according to human ambition or desire. Send your Spirit to call a purposeful candidate, and to give us the wisdom to support that leader.
March 8, 2019
“I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)
How often do we question ourselves? How often do we wonder if we have the strength, the courage, and the abilities to handle all that is set before us? And how many times do we forget that we are not handling these responsibilities alone? God is always walking with us. As a wise person once said, “Even during a test, the teacher is usually quiet.”
O God, we ask you to be a constant presence in the lives of the people of this synod. Look with favor upon those discerning the office of bishop. Give them the strength, the courage, and the abilities required to handle all that is set before them. In your name we pray, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen!
March 9, 2019
“I am your servant; give me understanding, that I may know your testimonies.” (Psalm 119:125)
How often do we forget that whatever we do in this church, we must act in a spirit of service? If we focus always on serving others, we are more likely to put our neighbor’s needs before our own desires.
God, put our minds in a right place as we discern the call to a new bishop, that we might strive to serve the Holy Spirit and not to rely on human testimonies, however they tempt or appeal to us.
March 10, 2019
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” (John 15:16)
What is the difference between the choice of following human will, and the choice of following God’s will? If we are the ones actually casting the votes, how do we allow the choice to be the Spirit’s?
O God, help us to reflect on the nature of choice. Show us the way to use our will to reflect your will. Help us to discover the one whom you would appoint. Amen.
March 11, 2019
"But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth." (2 Thessalonians 2:13)
As Christians and members of this Church, do we ever bicker amongst ourselves? Do we allow ourselves to become mired in pettiness? Do we govern with insistence on our own position, instead of with the gratitude that leads us to hear others?
O God, as we move into this season of election, let us begin and end with gratitude, for in Your church, we have been given the greatest gift.
March 12, 2019
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
Step away from past hurt and pain, and think about our blessings today. Be thankful for the times God has said NO to us, and reflect on how we’ve responded. Would our answers be different today?
God, we ask that you remind us of Your gift of grace and the power of forgiveness. As we call a new bishop, send your Spirit to help us focus on all that is praiseworthy.
March 13, 2019
“But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.” (Psalm 39:7)
How often have we let our thoughts become weeds instead of flowers? Let’s resist the temptation of negative thoughts and help each other to be optimistic and hopeful.
O God, fill our minds and hearts with Your perfect peace. Help us to know You’ll carry us through this season of discernment, as we call a new bishop.
March 14, 2019
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” (John 16:13)
Does the Spirit of truth come just once, or continually? Do we accept revelation when it comes to us? How can we discover truth?
O God, Your Spirit brings truth. Open our hearts to the work of the Spirit, that we might discern the servant You would have lead us in the days to come.
March 15, 2019
“You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.” (Job 11:18)
Do we walk through our day in a state of fog because we’re anxious about our future? Let’s thank God for the lamp placed at our feet to help guide our path. God will never leave us and our future is bright.
O God, quiet our minds and free us from the anxiety that comes from the unknown. Help us to know that our hopes will be fulfilled according to Your will. Remind us that You are in charge and that we are safe because YOU are walking with us during this time of discernment, as we call our bishop.
March 16, 2019
“For God is not a God of confusion, but of peace.” (1 Corinthians 14:33)
How often do we put our face in our hands, and hide our eyes, overwhelmed with what appears before us? Do we cry, ‘It’s too much!’ and forget to meditate on the direction God is leading us? Do we let ourselves wallow in inner turmoil though we worship a God of peace?
O God, let us not be taken aback by the choices before us. Lead us to realize that many qualified candidates are a bounty of riches, not a cause for distress. Take us from confusion to the peace of walking in Your will.
March 17, 2019
“Let my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding according to your word!” (Psalm 119:169)
If we ask God to answer us but hear no response, has God failed us, or have we failed to listen? Have we forgotten the promises and covenants we’ve received? Would a loving God fail the church?
O God, we cry to you for guidance. Hear our pleas. Send us the understanding that transcends our limited vision.
March 18, 2019
“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” (Proverbs 18:13.)
When we converse with others, do we always listen before we respond? Or do we fail to hear, because we are too busy coming up with something clever to say? Do we allow for pauses, and silence, to process what we are told? Do we honor the difference between conversing, and merely talking? What about when we converse with the Holy Spirit?
O God, open my ears. Give me the patience to listen and the will to comprehend. Guide my thoughts by what I learn. Help me not to cling to former understanding. Bring me to genuine conversation with my fellow members of the Body of Christ as we discern new leadership.
March 19, 2019
“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14.)
What does leadership mean within our Synod? Do we expect our new bishop to “do it all”? How will the bishop find counselors to assist the role? Can we make ourselves into useful counselors?
Heavenly Mother, scripture tells us the necessity of an abundance of counselors. Send us candidates for bishop who possess the wisdom and humility to listen to others. Help us search out ways in which we can assist the new bishop in mission for our Synod. Bring us an abundance of counselors of all perspectives and backgrounds. Smile upon Your servants.
March 20, 2019
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.” (James 4:1-2.)
Do we quarrel and fight within our Synod? Do we do so because we rely on ourselves, instead of on God? What do we covet? Does that which we covet align with what God would have us possess?
O God, when we cannot choose for ourselves, let us submit to Your will. Let us not quarrel or fight over the election of bishop but trust the Holy Spirit to make known the one whom You call. We ask You, so that we may receive the leader You intend.
March 21, 2019
“For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11.)
What does it mean to be called to a position, versus to want that position? Is the desire incompatible with a call? Does the better candidate for bishop want the job, or not want the job? Does wanting the job matter?
The office of bishop is a difficult one. We pray to you, O God, that the candidate we raise up may desire the office based on a right sense of calling, and not only desire for higher office.
March 22, 2019
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with my eye.” (Psalm 32:8.)
From whom are we to take instruction? How do we know which way to go? What does it mean to be guided by God’s eye? What role does Scripture play, or prayer, or fellowship?
O God, guide us. As we engage in collective discernment to elect a new bishop, help us see through your eye. Let us remember the tools you have given us, including Your Word. Form us into students of Your will.
March 23, 2019
“And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.” (1 Corinthians 12:28.)
What do the different offices mean within a church? How do gifts of healing and helping and guidance interact with the church body and its leaders? What are ‘different kinds of tongues’—backgrounds? experiences? temperaments? What role do we as individuals play in the life of the church ordained for us?
Each of us brings to the table a unique vision. O God, You have gifted each of us, in different ways. Help us to utilize our own talents while respecting those of others. Let us combine all that we have in order to find the one path Your Spirit would have us follow.