Good morning! I hope this day finds you and your family well, and I want you to know that you are in my prayers daily during this difficult time.
I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below — as well as on the theology woven into “It is well with my soul.”
Luke 9:1-6 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Mission of the Twelve
9 Then Jesus[a] called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. 3 He said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic. 4 Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. 5 Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 6 They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
In today’s passage of scripture the twelve disciples (students, followers) become apostles (those who are sent). Jesus sent them out to call people to be a part of the kingdom of God and to bring healing wherever they went. They were not to take anything with them. On this first day of 2021, this passage of scripture has a message for us today, I think. If we place ourselves in the shoes of those disciples-becoming-apostles, we can hear a message for moving into this new year.
As we move into the new year, what would it mean for you and me to “proclaim the kingdom of God?” Jesus was always pointing to the realm of God in his teachings. He was always calling people to live in the realm of God. I use the word “realm” with a purpose—we don’t live in a kingdom and aren’t much acquainted in our culture with what that means, but the word “realm” captures the meaning beautifully. The word “realm” means a royal domain, like the term “kingdom,” but it also means “the region, sphere, or domain within which anything occurs, prevails, or dominates.” [dictionary.com] So, I use the more inclusive term “realm”: the realm of God is “the region, sphere, or domain within which the will of God occurs, prevails, or dominates.”
So, back to the question: what would it mean for us to proclaim the realm of God in 2021? I invite you to think about that for yourself, but perhaps it would mean that we live our lives and use our influence and our resources in ways that love our neighbors as ourselves and love God with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength. It would mean doing what “the Lord requires” according to Micah 6:8 – “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
As we move into the new year, what would it mean for you and me “to heal” in the new year? Could it mean that we will do everything in our power to bring healing to our relationships and to the torn fabric of our nation? Could it mean that we will do all we can to ensure that people are safe as we continue to move through this time of pandemic?
I think these are good questions to ponder on the first day of this new year.
One more thought. “Take nothing for the journey” also has a message for us for moving into the new year. What do we need to leave behind in 2020? What can we do without in the new year?
A traditional prayer in the Wesleyan tradition is the Covenant Prayer. John Wesley adapted this prayer from the Puritan tradition that was so important to his parents, Samuel and Suzannah. He expected the people called “Methodists” to pray this prayer at the beginning of each new year as a way of remembering and renewing their baptismal covenant.
I invite you to make this prayer your prayer today:
I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt. Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee. Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal. And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it. And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster