2011 Archives | Devotions | Goshen College

April 24, 2011

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By Tamara Shantz, assistant campus pastor and apartment manager
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 28:1-10 (NRSV)
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DEVOTIONAL:
Throughout our Lenten devotionals we have been considering what it means to “become human.” As Philip Newell suggests in his book, Christ of the Celts, in Christ, we have a witness to the truth of who God created us to be. Christ shows us not only the face of God but also “the true face of the human soul.”
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April 23, 2011

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By Justin Yoder, junior music major from Perkasie, Pa.
SCRIPTURE: Acts 10:34-43 (NRSV)
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DEVOTIONAL:
I’ve often wondered what that first Holy Saturday was like for the followers of Jesus in Jerusalem. The Gospels are mostly silent when it comes to this final day in our Lenten journey; the detailed narratives skip from the anguish and despair of Good Friday to the hopeful wonder of the Easter morning discovery. And perhaps this is an understandable omission. Would we not also, in our remembrance of this Holy Week, and in our own personal journeys of suffering and loss, prefer to move directly from despair and death into hope and rebirth?

We don’t really know what the followers of Jesus did on this day all those centuries ago. Bound by the Sabbath guidelines to refrain from the busywork that might have numbed the pain of Calvary’s horrors, I imagine the disciples were burdened with the dead weight of raw grief, images of death’s cruel reality still seared in their minds. The Scriptures tell us that darkness fell over the whole land on the afternoon of Good Friday, as Jesus hung dying on the cross. I think that for the first disciples, that next day must have felt like a time of great darkness, as well – the darkness of fear, of crushed hopes, of broken dreams.

In the late 1980s, the poet Brian Wren wrote the hymn text “Joyful is the Dark” in an attempt to celebrate the usually neglected positive implications of darkness in the biblical tradition. The poem’s fourth verse describes the great darkness at the end of Passion Week, but it ends with a striking phrase: “Never was that midnight touched by dread and gloom; darkness was the cradle of the dawning.” I love the idea that the darkness we so often associate with our pain, our fear, our own metaphorical deaths – this “hopeless” darkness cradles in its pitch-black arms the new life that is about to be born in us. The sorrow and anguish of that first Holy Saturday were not some cruel interlude between death and rebirth; God was preparing in this darkness the miracle of the morning.

In today’s Scripture passage, the Apostle Peter testifies to this miraculous resurrection as he speaks to a crowd at Caesarea. We hear again in his words the promise of a new life that is for all people – even those previously thought to be lost in darkness. This Holy Saturday, may we hold onto the confident hope of Peter’s words, trusting, as we await the dawn of Christ’s resurrection, that the darkness cradles our new life, as well.

SCRIPTURE: Acts 10:34-43 (NRSV)
34Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. 37That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 40but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, 41not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
April 22, 2011

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By Ann Hostetler, professor of English
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 (NRSV)
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DEVOTIONAL:
“April is the cruelest month,” T. S. Eliot wrote. This is certainly true in Northern Indiana where the promise of spring is often packed in freezing rain and blasts of cold wind. A few weeks ago a serendipitously warm day coaxed tulip leaves from the ground. I itched to work in the garden. But when I finally found an hour to spare, wintry temperatures had returned. I put my Crocs back in the closet and stepped back into boots. If I hadn’t already lived through many a Northern Indiana spring, I would have given up hope by now of ever seeing new leaves and flowers. Yet even in this chill, daffodils have emerged. They trust the nourishing soil, sense the changing temperatures and increased sunlight enough to put out their early blooms. It is time.
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April 21, 2011

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By Emma Brooks, a sophomore art major from Littleton, Colo.
SCRIPTURE: Jeremiah 31:1-6 (NRSV)
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DEVOTIONAL:
Being tired makes me grumpy; not seeing the sun for several weeks only makes my mood worse. I didn’t realize how lucky I had it, coming from a place with 300 days of sunshine a year. A hectic schedule and bleak sunless days have been my “wilderness” as of late. When the sun shone and the temperature rose just recently, I suddenly realized that I had been irritable for weeks.
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April 20, 2011

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By Brook Hostetter, a sophomore music major from Harrisonburg, Va.
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 27:11-54 (NRSV)
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DEVOTIONAL:
After reading this passage I decided to take a few days to reflect on this question in my own life. “Whom is it that I persecute?” Persecution in our lives may not seem as obvious or as harsh as it did in the Bible. I’ve found that as humans, we tend to get an idea about someone, and immediately draw conclusions about who they are. It frightens me to think about how quick we are to judge.
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April 19, 2011

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By Odelet Nance, director of the Multicultural Affairs Office
SCRIPTURE: Philippians 2:5-11 (NRSV)
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DEVOTIONAL:
When I was a child growing up at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, music was a key component of the worship experience. On any given Sunday at Mt. Zion, you could hear the following lyrics of this traditional spiritual being supported by drums and an organ with a gospel flair: “I woke up this morning with my mind stayed on Jesus. I woke up this morning with my mind stayed on Jesus. Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelujah.” With much clapping, swaying and dancing, the congregation excitedly engaged in worship and praise.
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April 18, 2011

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By Grace Parker, a junior English and Bible and religion double major from Wichita, Kan.
THIS WEEK’S THEME: I have seen the Lord

DEVOTIONAL:

Mary Magdalene, previously shocked and grieved by Jesus’ death, suddenly appears to the disciples and declares, “I have seen the Lord” (John 20:18). She had seen Jesus – alive, standing outside of his tomb, talking to her.
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April 15, 2011

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By Sophie Metzger, assistant director of multicultural affairs
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 21:1-11 (NRSV)
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DEVOTIONAL:
As they near Jerusalem, Jesus gives his disciples clear instructions: Go, find, untie, bring to me…
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April 14, 2011

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By Jake Shipe, resident director
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 31:9-16 (NRSV)
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DEVOTIONAL:
The theme for this year’s Lenten Devotions asks the question, what does it mean for us to be the created and recreated images of God? How may we become authentically human?
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April 13, 2011

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By Jessica Gotwals, a junior nursing major from Telford, Pa.
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 50:4-9a (NRSV)
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DEVOTIONAL:
For the past three summers I have worked as a camp counselor. This was simultaneously the most flattering experience and the most humbling experience I’ve ever had.
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