Category Archives: Devotions

FCAMA Epiphany Devotion – Friday, January 6, 2017

The Epiphany of our Lord — Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12

“And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ. Through Christians like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels!” (Ephesians 3:8,10, TM)

There are some of us Christians who are reluctant to talk to others outside of our church about Jesus, and sometimes even reluctant to talk to each other about Him! Paul wasn’t reluctant at all, and apparently the people of the churches of Ephesus weren’t either! God had acted decisively by coming to be with all people, not just the Jewish people, in Jesus, and through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, offering all people the gift of a relationship with Himself. There are no strings attached to this gift. The acceptance of it is life-transforming. How it all works is a mystery and beyond logic. Human words cannot sufficiently express all that God has done and is doing for us in Christ. Yet, like St. Paul, we are to talk anyway. We are not to keep this great news to ourselves, for it is for all people.

Loving, mysterious, and generous God: Give us the words and understanding of the heart we need to share the good news of your freely-given relationship with Yourself through Christ with others. In Jesus’ name: Amen.

– Father Larry Parrish, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Falls City

FCAMA Christmas Devotion – Thursday, January 5, 2017

Joshua 1:1-9

“This is my command — be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9, NLT)

I don’t know about you, but one of the things that helps me to remember God’s presence with me in the midst of my fear is music. I have been inspired this entire season by the words of hymns and poems that speak of the power of faith, hope, and love, grounded in Christ. As my part in this year’s devotion ends, I leave you with these words from George Herbert, which represent my prayer for all the faithful who await Christ’s coming again.

Come, my way, my truth, my life:
such a way as gives us breath;
such a truth as ends all strife;
such a life as killeth death.

Come, my light, my feast, my strength:
such a light as shows a feast;
such a feast as mends in length;
such a strength as makes his guest.

Come, my joy, my love, my heart:
such a joy as none can move;
such a love as none can part;
such a heart as joys in love.

Amen and amen.

– Pastor Andrew Chavanak, St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCA), Falls City

FCAMA Christmas Devotion – Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Isaiah 6:1-5

“…I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of God’s robe filled the temple.” (Isaiah 6:1b, NRSV)

Isaiah saw God in a wonderful vision. Or did he? He described the seraphs that attended God but did not describe God. But that doesn’t seem to matter to Isaiah. He is still in awe of what he saw. Isaiah’s response to this incredible sight is perhaps a common one: I am unworthy! I am unworthy to see something this beautiful. I am unworthy to be in the presence of God.

But instead of imploding in upon himself at such an experience, Isaiah’s lips are touched with a hot coal (zowie and ouch!) and his sins are blotted out. It was then he was free to volunteer when God asked “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?”

So many times we feel, first of all, unworthy of a task God might call us to undertake, and then we feel unprepared or inadequate. Surely there is someone else more suited for this God-task than me!

Nope! Says God. That’s why I asked YOU!!! I gave you the gifts needed for this and I expect you to use them. There is nothing we can’t accomplish together!

Holy, Holy, Holy God, you’ve called me to the task. Fill me now as your hem filled the temple, and I will answer your call. Amen.

– Pastor Fay Ann Blaylock, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Falls City, and Zion United Church of Christ, Rulo

FCAMA Christmas Devotion – Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Genesis 28:10-22 — “‘The Decree’ by Ann Weems”

Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.  (Genesis 28:15, NRSV)

“And in these days a decree goes out to all the world, for these are taxing times. We are all called again to go to Bethlehem, no matter the state of our health or our world. We come, obedient and faithful, for we have heard the message, we have dreamed the dream that God will come to dwell among us. We come, expectant with joy, pregnant with anticipation, for God has done great things for us. We come searching for a sign; bearing our gifts, we come. We come, called from the silent hillsides of our hearts, startled and frightened by the magnitude of light, we huddle together toward Bethlehem. We come, one by one, and yet, as one, dancing into the Promise.”

God of promises, help bring us back to you and to what you want us to be in this world. Amen.

– Pastor Nancy Tuma, First Presbyterian Church, Falls City, and First Presbyterian Church, Hiawatha, KS

FCAMA Christmas Devotion – Monday, January 2, 2017

Genesis 12:1-7

“The Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you… so Abram went, as the Lord had told him.” (Genesis 12:1,4a, NIV)

We read these passages so matter-of-factly. They are so familiar, we don’t always think of the impact of what was happening here. Would we have done what Abram did?  God did not tell him he had a job and a house and a community waiting for him in such-and-such a city! No, God said, basically, “pack up your family and your stuff, and take off.  When we get there—wherever “there” is—I will tell you.” Wow! In this day and society, such behavior is considered irresponsible, and maybe it was then, too! Please note, also, there is no record of discussion between Abram and God. Abram does not say, “why?” or “where are we going?” or “do you have any idea what a move like this will take?” Most of us might ask at least one of those questions.

This story is one of RADICAL TRUST, and I think it is in Scripture to call us to that kind of RADICAL TRUST. Abram may have trusted that God knew what he was doing, and that something different, and maybe wonderful, was afoot, but none of that apparently matters. It was GOD who called! The same God calls us, and when we follow in RADICAL TRUST, it won’t matter where, because it is God who calls.

God who calls, open our ears to your call, open ourselves to RADICAL TRUST, and take us where you will!  Amen.

– Mary Parrish, St. Thomas Episcopal Church

FCAMA Christmas Devotion – Sunday, January 1, 2017

First Sunday of Christmas — John 1:9-18

“ . . . to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become the children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.”  (John 1:12-13, NRSV)

John the Evangelist uses believe to mean more than “intellectual assent.” It means intellectual recognition, but it also means trust. Belief in Jesus as the Word made flesh means that we don’t use a statement of belief as a set of magic words, but trust that Jesus was who He and the early Church said He was/is and in what God was doing and is doing in Him. We are willing to stake our lives and how we live them on the trust that God really did show up in a baby who became a Jewish contractor and who was executed and resurrected. We trust that we have not only been made “children of God” but that we have also received the power to live as such. We don’t do this naturally, or by trying hard, but by being “born from above,” as John says later (John 3:5-6). Being children of God is given to us as a gift from God. Living like we are comes from trust that God will give us the power to do so.

Incarnate Lord, we trust that You dwell among us and that we dwell in You. By the power of your Spirit, make our hearts like yours, and love others as you love us. Amen.

– Father Larry Parrish, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Falls City

FCAMA Christmas Devotion – Saturday, December 31, 2016

John 8:12-19

“Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, ‘I Am the Light of the world.  If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12, NLT)

It must have been frustrating for the Pharisees to always be losing in their arguments with Jesus in front of the crowds. You see, even though they studied God’s Word, their attitude kept their hearts and minds in darkness. In John the first chapter, it says, “In him was life and that life was the light of men. The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John 1:4-5, KJV)

They had the Light of the World standing in front of them and they would rather argue over whether he was a proper witness for himself. So they kept arguing from darkened minds and kept losing to Jesus in public debate. He tried to help them when he said, “If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness because you will have the light that leads to life”.

People keep trying to create their own light their own way. They even get arrogant about it. They think they are the enlightened ones and Jesus is for ignorant, uneducated people, but their lives are still a mess, because they are walking in darkness. Jesus claims that his light leads to real life.

It’s very simple; if we walk in the light Jesus shines on our path, we can see the path clearly and not stumble. If we decide to turn around and stubbornly walk against the light, we are blinded like deer in the headlights. There’s going to be an awful crash.

Jesus is the light of the world and it’s still going around the world giving people life and transforming lives.

Lord, help us to accept you as the light of the world and stop trying to create our own. Help us to walk with your light instead of against it. Help us to let the Light and Life you give us to be a Light and Life for others.

– Pastor Stephen C. Floyd, First Church of the Nazarene, Falls City

FCAMA Christmas Devotion – Friday, December 30, 2016

Psalm 20

Now I know that the Lord gives victory to the anointed one; God will answer out of holy heaven, gaining victory with a strong right hand. Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we rely on the name of the Lord our God.” (Psalm 20:6-7, ELW)

Martin Luther’s Explanation of the First Commandment rings true in every season: “A ‘god’ is the term for that to which we are to look for all good and in which we are to find refuge in all need. Therefore, to have a god is nothing less than to trust and believe in that one with your whole heart.”

As we approach the beginning of another new year, with all the introspection and hope that comes with it, it seems good to ponder this definition of a “god”, and to reflect on where we will place our trust and confidence over the next 365 days. Jesus Christ – God’s word incarnate – came to our world to assure us that God knows beyond a doubt the struggle of our human existence. In every trial and challenge that might come in 2017, may we who bear the name of Christ live fully in the knowledge of God’s love for us, of Christ’s presence with us, and of the Spirit’s power within us, so that we place our trust not in ourselves, but in the Triune God who dwells among us.

Eternal God, you have placed us in a world of space and time, and through the events of our lives you bless us with your love. Grant that in the new year we may know your presence, see your love at work, and live in the light of the event that gives us joy forever—the coming of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (ELW, p. 63)

– Pastor Andrew Chavanak, St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCA), Falls City

FCAMA Christmas Devotion – Thursday, December 29, 2016

Luke 19:41-44

Jesus said, “If only you knew on this of all days the things that lead to peace. But now they are hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:42, CEB)

The stores have already marked down their merchandise for post-Christmas sales, and the Valentine’s Day candies are already starting to fill the shelves. After weeks of preparation – or, for many of us, outright celebration – there is a tendency to rush through the observance of Christmas so that we can move on to the next thing. I wonder, though, if that tendency is healthy. The days following Christmas offer us a chance to continue reflecting on the significance of Christ’s birth. At the beginning of Luke’s gospel, we hear from a man named Zechariah, who describes the birth of Jesus as the “dawn from on high” that will illuminate our days and deeds, and “guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79, NRSV) Pondering Christ, his birth, his life, his teaching, his death, and his resurrection – all these things are helpful guideposts along that way of peace, and when they come to be hidden from our eyes by all that distracts us, we run the risk of losing our footing. May the frantic pace of our lives never cause us to stray from the path that leads us to God’s promised shalom!

Holy God, the dawning of your salvation opens our path to abundant life with you and with one another. Open our eyes to those guideposts that point to your life-giving way, and amid the distractions of our busy lives, keep us on the path that leads to peace for humanity and creation. We ask all these things in the name of your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

– Pastor Andrew Chavanak, St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCA), Falls City

FCAMA Christmas Devotion – Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Isaiah 49:13-23

“But Zion says, ‘The Lord has abandoned me; my Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a woman forget her nursing child…? Even these may forget, but I won’t forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15, CEB)

Whew! That’s good news! God will not forget us. What a good reminder for us on these dark days of December when it takes forever for the sun to come up and then too quickly, it goes down. No wonder ancient societies arranged elaborate celebrations to please the sun so it would return to them in the spring.

I love the language of this “song” in Isaiah. Full of promise for better days, a bright future. And it is good news not just for an individual but for an entire nation. These days of political turmoil and the violence that seems rampant today make it hard to imagine a peaceful future in our world.

But God says again and again that we are not abandoned. God’s love goes beyond all borders, beyond all situations, whether political or personal (and sometimes we experience both at the same time), and beyond even our own doing. Even on your worst day, save a little space for joy. God will fill that space.

Thank you, God, for reminding us you are always there as close to us as our own breathing. Amen.

– Pastor Fay Ann Blaylock, Zion United Church of Christ, Rulo, and FIrst Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Falls City