Friday, January 7, 2011

Something New

Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? Isaiah 43 18-19a NRSV

I am about to do something new with OMD (One Minute Devotional). I have a few loose ends to tie up first, so I ask your patience over the next couple of weeks (hopefully only days). However, there are plenty of devotionals that I have written over the last couple of years. I invite you to do some exploring and see what you find. I think there is a gem or two among those and something may be just what you need to hear.

Meanwhile, keep praying and reading scripture!

Question to ask yourself each day: What new thing am I doing today? What new thing is God doing in my life right now?

God, thank you for all who read OMD. I ask your blessings on this new thing that I am attempting. May my words honor You. In Jesus' precious name I pray. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

"New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

Thursday, January 6, 2011


The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. Luke 2:20 NRSV

Today is Epiphany, the day we celebrate the wise men and their gifts. But we leave the shepherds and the Christmas story changed people. We return to our “regular” lives but we do so in praise of the awesome works of God that we have heard and seen in our lives. We have been told the story of Christ’s birth and it has moved us. Just as the shepherds go back to life in the fields to guard the sheep they left behind, they do so as changed men. Not because of seeing the angels – although that was so impressive to be terrifying – but because what the angels told them truly happened. We are changed, too, not because of hearing the story or understanding more about the shepherds but because we see that God has entered into our lives just where we are and we can not keep this life-altering event to ourselves.

God, we have not only heard but have seen your great work in the world. We can no longer keep silent. We leave the Christmas season behind changed people who go forth to share your part in our own Christmas story. Amen.

Copyright 2008 Amelia G. Sims

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Christmas Day 12

“When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:18-19

The lowly shepherds have been in the direct presence of God, have received a message from an angel and had their fears relieved. In response, they have chosen to see for themselves the revelation given to them and have found that what they were told by God’s messenger is true. They are now moved to share their story of how the birth was announced to them. It is interesting that no one laughs at their story. No one questions them or asks to go see the spot where the angels appeared. No one wants a drawing or asks for their proof of their expertise in angelic matters. Instead, everyone is simply amazed. And Mary holds these things in her heart.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the simple joy of Christmas filled us with such amazement? Wouldn’t it be good to just accept the birth of Christ in our hearts without knit-picking, questioning, examining and looking for faults? Wouldn’t it be great if we told our own faith story with all the excitement and conviction of these simple shepherds?

It certainly would.

God, you have revealed, been present, shaken us from sleep and entered our lives. But we have yet to really go and confirm this for ourselves or share it with too many people. We spend too much time just rationalizing why we should avoid doing these things. Forgive us, God, forgive us. Amen.

Copyright 2008 Amelia G. Sims

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Christmas Day 11

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us. “ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the child lying in the manger. Luke 2:15-16 NRSV

The shepherds, keepers, guardians and dependents of the flock do the craziest thing here in the midst of the Christmas story. They leave the sheep to go and see what the angels have told them. To a rational person, this would make the shepherds into fools. The sheep are how they live and the sheep are all they have. The sheep are vitally important: right? Or maybe not. What happened to them was so life-changing that the shepherds are able to leave behind what seems important to go and see what God has revealed to them.

How many of us would be able to leave our jobs, or more importantly our job security, in order to confirm God’s revelation to us? Certainly many ministers such as myself began by following God’s call and leaving what seemed secure behind. But how many of us pastors today are truly following God’s call or are we just content following the ministerial career ladder? If God revealed something to us, could we leave the relative security of our guaranteed appointments and pension plans to follow God’s revelation? But we aren’t the only ones with seemingly important careers, familial responsibilities and 401Ks. Would you be able to leave the sheep and go to see what the angels reported? Would you be able to follow God no matter what?

God, sometimes you ask us to leave what we consider to be safe and comfortable and important. Give us the courage to follow. Amen.

Copyright 2008 Amelia G. Sims

Monday, January 3, 2011

Christmas Day 10

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
Luke 2:14 NRSV

Other ancient authorities read: …and on earth, peace, goodwill among people… and the paraphrase The Message puts it like this: Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.” Obviously, the first part of the angel’s chorus is praise to God. The second part may be a bit more convoluted. Perhaps peace is only for those people that God likes, or maybe peace and goodwill will be abundant for all, or that only those who please God will receive God’s peace. I personally prefer the abundance of peace and goodwill for everyone. That way, I get a gift without having to first get God’s favor.

But, although I know that God loves me without reservation, I do have to respond to that love in order to receive God’s peace. In other words, I must be able to surrender to God before I can receive the peace that passes all understanding. If I am still worried, I have not surrendered all and I am not at peace. If I try to control things and do it all my own way, I will be as far removed from peace as possible. If I know what God asks of me but I do not do that, then God’s peace will be elusive.

To have God’s favor, to please God, to follow as God commands, that is the road to peace and goodwill… for all people.

God, you ask me to surrender. You ask me to follow. You ask me to please you. I pray that I can do so and receive your peace that passes all understanding. Amen.

Copyright 2008 Amelia G. Sims

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Christmas Day 9

"And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it....then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, 'Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it....How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God and this is the gate of heaven.' "[Gen. 28:12, 16-17] "Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice..." [Rev. 5:11-12a]

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace among those whom he favors!" Luke 2:13-14 NRSV

And we thought one angel was terrifying! Here is a multitude, the Greek quite literally says a heavenly army, appearing above the heads of the shepherds. Jacob knew the presence of the divine when he dreamed of the angels descending and ascending where he slept and John of Patmos envisions the throne of heaven as surrounded by such a multitude. Without a doubt, the shepherds know that God is very much present. Take a moment and reflect back on the Christmas season. Where was God present for you in the last few weeks? Probably not as a heavenly army or chorus but God was present. Now perhaps you know what to look for during this New Year.

God, I pray that I can keep my eyes and ears open to your presence throughout this New Year. Amen.

Copyright 2008 Amelia G. Sims

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Christmas Day 8

“’This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’” Luke 2:12 NRSV

The shepherds have just been given a birth announcement and now they are told how to find the child. Now they are to be looking for a Messiah – a savior of God’s people. You would think that they are to go to the nicest house in the neighborhood, maybe at the center of tow or in the newly-wed suite in the inn. But the angel tells them to find the poorest place in the whole village and follow their nose. For the shepherds, this seems to confirm that the angel’s news is to be believed. But what does it do for us? Why would God choose to be born in a smelly cattle shed? Why wasn’t Jesus born to parents who had a little more money? For that reason, why wasn’t Jesus born in a priestly home in Jerusalem? How can we know that this angel is speaking the truth to us?

For the same reason that this Messiah, this Lord and Savior is not like any pre-conceived notions of a savior. This Lord is not going to march on Jerusalem and take power away from Rome through fighting. This Lord is going to save his people by giving away his life to Rome. Blood will be shed but it will be Jesus’ own blood. This is the sign for us and for all the people. This is a different savior, one who is God with us, born not in a palace but in a barn.

God, you do things differently. You didn’t enter the world like everyone thought you should. You entered where you were least expected. Enter in us today – in the least likely places of our poor and messy lives. Amen.

Copyright 2008 Amelia G. Sims