MORNING WATCH DEVOTIONS
Sunset Gap 2018
The third of our goals for this week together is to “enable us to live in Christian community, with worship as a key part of our week.” With that in mind, we begin and end each day with worship. Each morning by 7:40, we are all out of our trailers and in a private, quiet space to have at least 10 minutes of devotion time using the following guide. It has scripture for each day, as well as a guided reading to spur your prayer and thoughts. Our themes each morning come from the daily programs for our Day Camp this week. Each of our lessons talks about God’s constant presence, how Jesus walks with us equipping us for our daily ministry, enabling us to be the servant people that we are called to be. And then at 7:50, we gather at the pavilion for our morning worship. Let this time enrich your week and your growth in faith.
“How majestic is your name in all the earth!” ~ Psalm 8:1b
WHEN YOU’RE LONELY, JESUS RESCUES
Monday “Jesus tells parables about lost things.” Luke 15
Each of the stories in this chapter of Luke tell of something lost, then found. While some shepherds worked together to find a lost sheep, others stayed behind to care for the rest of the flock. The value of the lost coin is the equivalent of a wedding ring, while there is a monetary value, there is sentimental value as well. As you read the story of the lost son, notice how Jesus paints a picture of a young man who alienates himself from his family. In Biblical times, it was an act of defiance for sons to request their inheritance while their father was still alive and Deuteronomy 21:18-21 explains that a father could have a rebellious son stoned for his actions. In the parable, the father didn’t pursue his son while he was away yet welcomes him back excitedly as he runs to meet him, showing grace and love when he returns. Loneliness happens to all of us. We all know what it’s like to feel lonely or lost, but Jesus promises his comforting presence. On this first day in Sunset Gap, we get to be the arms of Jesus, welcoming kids to camp – meeting folks for the first time as we work together to share God’s love all the way from New Jersey to the hills of Tennessee. We are missing old friends who have made this journey with us in years past and now find ourselves at this time of new beginnings. Remember that we are never alone, those we love are always with us. Look into the faces of those you meet today and remember that each of us is made in the image of God. Trust in God’s presence to be with you as you pray for all those you come in contact with today and in the week ahead.
“The Lord will hold me close.” ~ Psalm 27:10
WHEN YOU WORRY, JESUS RESCUES
Tuesday “Martha worries and complains.” Luke 10:38-42
Perhaps you know someone who always finds fault in every situation. The person who sees the glass as half empty, rather than half full; someone who focuses on the negative, rather than finding the positive. Perhaps you are that person. In our lesson today, Jesus reminds us that rather than constantly doing and complaining, we need to take time to stop and listen, to recognize the grace that surrounds us in the midst of the chaos of our lives. We live in a complicated world with injustice, poverty, bigotry and violence affecting our everyday dialogue. Stress and anxiety are at record levels among children and adults. Guided by our faith, we are reminded Jesus walks with us, helping us cope with the realities that we are confronted with on a daily basis. Our life experiences change us, they give us courage and strengthen us, helping us to be people of faith, people of the Family of Faith. God helps us see who we are by those we come in contact with here in Tennessee, by members of our Ministry Team, and throughout the ministries that we share. Take some time in the midst of this day to listen, really listen, to someone else and be reminded that Jesus rescues each of us by caring for and guiding us in our lives.
“The Lord comes to the rescue each time.” ~ Psalm 34:19
WHEN YOU STRUGGLE, JESUS RESCUES
Wednesday “Jesus’ friends try to rescue him in the garden of Gethsemane.” Luke 22:39-54 and Matthew 26:36-56
Jesus struggles while in the garden, wrestling with what comes next, showing us that he is human, exposing his fear and emotion, turning to God for comfort and guidance. His friends join him, try to defend him, and Jesus reminds them of God’s presence and power. As much as we try, we need to be reminded that we are not in control of our lives, God is. God comes to us, freeing us “from the sin that enslaves us.” We need God’s help as we make difficult decisions, to guide us as we journey in new directions to new places. God brings us together to learn from one another – from our friends in Sunset Gap and from New Jersey. Look for someone who might teach you something new today. Try to help others learn about your faith and about Christ’s mission as you share God’s love on this day.
“Be still, and know that I am God!” ~ Psalm 46:10
WHEN YOU DO WRONG, JESUS RESCUES
Thursday “Jesus welcomes a criminal before dying and coming back to life.” Luke 23:26-24:12
The Gospels’ passion narratives force us to consider multiple realities regarding Jesus’ prosecution and death. We see the politics of human society, we see God behind the scenes, and we see reflections on human responsibility. Luke’s account of Jesus’ death compels us to consider the passion in light of God’s wide-ranging design for the world’s salvation. For Luke, the passion is the pinnacle of the inevitable rejection of God’s specially anointed prophet. It is also the route that this Messiah must take toward his eventual glorification. Jesus’ rejection is messy. The participants exhibit behavior that is both familiar and improbable, highlighting the misperception and fear behind it. They warn people who presume that they can find security from God in their institutions and in the trappings of power. They likewise warn those who think that they can create their own social and institutional systems that will align with God’s purposes. God cares too much about the work of saving the world to leave it in our hands. Salvation requires God to come into our lives now, just as he did then. We are by no means perfect, we are faced with challenges and don’t always make the best decisions. Scripture teaches us that we are forgiven and that we are to love one another just as Jesus loves us.
“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33
WHEN YOU’RE POWERLESS, JESUS RESCUES
Friday “Peter and John heal a lame man in Jesus’ name.” Acts 3:1-26
While Jesus’ followers proclaimed Christ, they also took time to pray and worship God faithfully according to their Jewish traditions. And that’s where we find Peter and John, heading to the temple to pray. After he is healed, the exuberant man walks through nine gates to reach the inner courts near Solomon’s colonnade. We all feel powerless at times, sometimes helpless. On this last day of camp, we are reminded that we are workers together in God’s kingdom and given awesome responsibility to do the work of Christ, to be the hands of Christ, to be the face of Christ, and together the body of Christ in the world. With the arrival of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem on Pentecost, the Church was born and the power to change the world was placed in our hands. Just as the Holy Spirit empowered the believers in Jerusalem to share the good news of God’s love and redemption in a diversity of languages, the Holy Spirit empowers each of us to share the good news in uniquely powerful ways. God’s love is one that engages us to be part of community – the community of Sunset Gap in Cosby, Tennessee and our Family of Faith in New Providence, New Jersey. God’s family, the Church, is called to love and nurture one another just as Jesus loved and nurtured his disciples. We are called by God, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and sent to care for God’s kingdom, just as Jesus shows us and teaches us. Our daily spiritual walk with God enables our faith to grow and flourish. As we look back at our week, try to recall where we have been, how far we have come, and where we have yet to go, with the words of the Servant’s Prayer: “O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through challenges unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
“This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead.” ~ Ephesians 1:19-20
Saturday On the bus and heading home. It was faith that brought us here in every sense of the word. The faith that God has given each of us. The Family of Faith that organizes this annual pilgrimage. And now it’s time to thank God for this week. For those who have touched our lives and those whose lives we have touched. For new friends we have made and for relationships that have grown. For the gift of being able to live in this special Christian community for a week. In the quiet of the bus ride today, take some time to thank God for these gifts and for the special blessings you have encountered. Pray for those we are leaving and understand that ministry always involves movement. Praising God always involves movement. Movement to familiar and unfamiliar places. Places like Tennessee, like New Providence, like Newark, like Tanzania, and countless other places. Like Jerusalem, where the world was forever changed. We make this journey Together in Hope and we thank God for each day, for the gift of Easter and the promise of new life. Thank God.
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” ~ Ephesians 4:4-6
Our Family members back home will receive copies of these Devotions
and are invited to join us each morning for prayer at 7:40.
Sunset Gap, Cosby Tennessee
This is a ministry that was begun with seed money provided by Faith Nursery School. In 1998, the first ministry team was sent for a more than 12-hour long bus ride from New Providence, New Jersey to Cosby, Tennessee in the heart of Appalachia. We went there because we wanted our folks to see that poverty transcends geography and race, and that is endemic to greed and selfish economic policy. We wanted to take a large, intergenerational team. We wanted to do construction and to run a day camp. And, we wanted to live together in Christian community in the sparsest of facilities. And Sunset Gap in Tennessee, in the deep South, was the closet place that met our criteria. We have had an interesting relationship there over the years. In our first year we were known as the “damn Yankees” and now we are called “kin.” There have been hundreds of folks of all ages from our Family who have made this journey. Dozens of construction projects started and finished. Hundreds and hundreds of children have heard the Gospel with a new accent. Lives have been forever changed. Lives will be forever changed. In Tennessee and in New Jersey. No matter where we go, we have opportunities to share the Gospel. We have opportunities to speak a word of hope, to share the gift of love that gives witness to our Easter gift. Tell the story. Share the Faith.
Faith Lutheran Church
The Family of Faith is a Christ-centered servant community that strives to be loving, forgiving, healing and affirming, as it continues to seek new opportunities to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to the world. Sustained by the Holy Spirit, we worship, serve, learn and grow together by sharing God’s gifts of our time, talents and treasures.
March 10, 1943 – August 13, 2017
In celebration of a life well lived at a place he so loved