Tuesday, Jan 5th

By: Chad Hyatt

John 1. 1-18

Reflection—v. 14, ‘we have seen his glory… as of a father’s only son’

Often we have open eyes but fail to see. Walk down streets you normally drive, and notice what you see. The slowness of a walk gives the time to see differently—more fully, more clearly, more intimately—what the speed of our hectic lives renders a passing blur. It is the same with love. Truly seeing is what happens when we slow down enough to be with one another. Jesus shows us the glory he shares with God, the glory ‘of a father’s only son.’ It is the glory of self-giving, mutual love. Our churches—indeed all our communities—can become places where, if we are willing, we slow down enough to truly see one another. If we do not allow sin and suffering to avert our gaze, we might just behold God’s glory. Our worst behavior is not our truest self. Who a person really is—who each one of us has been created in God’s own image to be—is that glimpse of glory we see in one another on our best days, in our kindest and most selfless acts. Grace upon grace, God helps us to see one another as God sees us.

Prayer   God, help me slow down enough to see—and to behold your glory.

Monday, Jan 4th

By: Chad Hyatt

John 1. 1-18

Reflection—v. 18, ‘the Son… close to the Father’s heart… has made him known’

Jesus is a teacher of the heart. He has come to show us what it is to be ‘close to the Father’s heart.’ Prayer draws us closer to that heart. The practice of silence in prayer has become especially important for us. Silence is what happens when we choose simply to be together without the need for words. At Mercy, silence is not the same as quiet. Someone is always coming through the door, banging it loudly. Water is running, as toilets are flushed or coffee cups washed. Someone may be snoring, a weary soul finding a moment of rest. Someone whose mind is full of many voices may be talking to no one any of us can see. But as we sit together in near darkness, a lit candle glowing on our altar table, silence takes all this noise into itself. Beneath the hustle and bustle, you begin to perceive a silence that upholds all that is. This is the silence of heart within heart, of the eternal, noiseless dance of love that is the mystery of God. As we see one another, prayerfully and from the heart, we begin to see the heart of God that Jesus is showing us.

Prayer Jesus, close to the heart of God, teach us to live, heart within heart.

Sunday, Jan 3rd

By: Chad Hyatt

John 1. 1-18

Reflection— v. 1, ‘In the beginning… the Word was with God’

John tells the story of Christmas differently. He doesn’t start in the small village of Nazareth or the little town of Bethlehem. He begins at the beginning, literally. John’s telling of the story of Jesus ties the good news of his coming to the coming into being of creation itself. And in truth, John even goes beyond that:IMG_20151116_113318 the beginning is the heart of the eternal God. What captures my attention, however, is the tiniest of prepositions: ‘with.’ At the beginning of all things, the Word was ‘with’ God. At the heart of the mystery of God is relationship in its most basic form, simply being with another. A beautiful metaphor for the Trinity, using the traditional language, describes the mystery of God as an eternal dance of love. The Father lavishes the overflowing fullness of his love upon the Son, and the Son joyously returns this love to the Father in full measure. This eternal movement of self-giving love between the Father and the Son is, in fact, the Holy Spirit. Relationship is at the heart of the universe, flowing from the heart of God at the beginning. Loving mutuality is the origin and order of the all things.

Prayer  God, you are with me, and I am with you—and this is love; this is life.

Saturday, Jan 2nd

By: Brittany Fiscus

Luke 2. 41-52

Reflection—v. 52 ‘Jesus increased’

Considering that we often like to imagine God as perfect and unchanging, I find it interesting that we are told in this verse that ‘Jesus increased.’  In this story, Jesus is a rebellious kid who wanders off from his parents, only to be found arguing theology and asking questions in the temple.  When he is scolded for running away, Jesus has a comeback, and it is explained that his parents just don’t understand.  Yet directly following this story of Jesus-the-unruly-pre-teen, we are told that he was obedient and increased in wisdom just as he aged in years.  This means that Jesus changed.  Jesus was not stagnant.  He did not descend to us fully grown in mind and ready to proclaim his message. No, it was a process.  He had to get in trouble with his parents, get lost, be misunderstood, physically grow, mature, and most importantly, he had to learn and ask questions.  If Jesus, the perfect example of humanity, had to increase, so must we, struggling through the same process toward maturity.

  

Prayer  God, help us strive for your favor with the humility of your Son, who was ever learning and asking questions, always growing and increasing through you.

Friday, Jan 1st

By: Brittany Fiscus

Colossians 3. 12-17

Reflection—v. 17, ‘do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus’

Every New Year, I think about ways to be a better Christian. This passage offers great direction for what I might do. But this is not just a lesson for the New Year, a resolution to be forgotten as life settles back into normalcy. No, the author is asking for something bigger than a brief commitment. This is about making sure that our entire being is centered on God. It is a reminder that we have been given a new way of life that shapes our very being, disturbs our comfortable routine, and touches our hearts with a depth that no Christmas commercial ever could. Moreover, we are not to forget that this letter was written to a community, not a single recipient. Our personal goals for the New Year are good, but we must remember what God asks of us as a beloved community—that we are to be centered on God and do everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, something we can hope to accomplish with the love and support of one another. As we watch Christmas decorations removed and advertisements change, let us remember that our new way of life in Christ is year-round and life-long.

Prayer  God, whose love is beyond time, remind us every single day is an opportunity to honor you in every single thing that we do.

Thursday, Dec 31st

By: Brittany Fiscus

Colossians 3. 12-17

Reflection—v. 16, ‘teach and admonish one another’

These days at Mercy, we hear a lot about how we are a ‘teaching congregation.’  What this means on a basic level is that we are a congregation with interns who are learning to be ministers, we offer classes like music and yoga, we invite youth groups to participate and fellowship with us, and we have Bible studies where everyone has a chance to share wisdom and insight.  But at Mercy, being a teaching congregation goes far beyond the concrete opportunities offered.  We embody the concept of being a congregation that teaches and learns from one another in a mutual exchange.  The author of Colossians says that’s a great thing: teaching and learning is a part of bearing, forgiving, and loving one another.  We must let the word of Christ dwell in our hearts, but knowledge of Christ is not ours to keep. We must share and teach it to one another.  Each of us is a teacher charged with sharing all of our wisdom.  When teaching is done with patience, love, mutuality, and respect for one another, those are the times when Mercy is truly a teaching community at its best.

Prayer  Rabbi, may we follow you as teachers, sharing the joy and riches of our hearts that we learned from you first.

Wednesday, Dec 30th

By: Brittany Fiscus

Colossians 3. 12-17

Reflection—v. 14, ‘Love’

I do not know that I have ever experienced ‘perfect harmony’ at Mercy, but I have experienced what it feels like to be loved.  Maybe for the first time in my life, I feel like I am a part of a community where no matter what I do, I will still be loved.  When we tell each other ‘hey, I love you,’ it is not the superficial I-love-you-because-of-all-good-qualities-you-have love.  Instead, I have experienced something more akin to relationships-are-complicated-and-neither-of-us-is-perfect-but-that-doesn’t-change-the-fact-that-I-love-you love.  Love, despite our faults.  Love, despite our complications. Love, despite the fact that it is hard to be in community with other people.  But that is what love is; it is what we are clothed in even after all the ‘despites.’  We still love each other, and that is exactly what binds us together in perfect harmony.  Not perfect in the sense that we do not have faults, but perfect in the sense that it is right and good.  Our love is what binds our community together in God’s perfect harmony.

Prayer  God, fill us with the kind of love that only you can offer, and help us to see in each other and love in each other what you see and love in each of us.

Tuesday, Dec 29th

By: Brittany Fiscus

Colossians 3. 12-17

Reflection—v. 13, ‘bear with one another’

Bearing with someone can sound a little burdensome, something that you do only because you have to, but I believe the author of Colossians is pointing to something richer than merely tolerating each other.  The phrase used for ‘bear with one another’ is used one other time in the New Testament, in Ephesians, when the community there was also encouraged to ‘bear with one another in love.’  When we ‘bear with one another in love’ we are present with them, we become their community, we share in their burdens, and ‘bear’ whatever that means.  We do not just tolerate them; we love them and stand with them.  The author gives us even more details on what we must do, saying that we must forgive each other if anyone has a complaint against another.  That’s part of bearing with each other: we have to forgive each other and choose to be in community anyway.  If we are to be a beloved community, we must learn to bear with one another in love, and we must learn to forgive one another.

Prayer  God, help us to bear with one another, and forgive one another, with all the unending love and patience that you have for us, your beloved children.

Monday, Dec 28th

By: Brittany Fiscus

Colossians 3. 12-17

Reflection—v. 12, ‘clothe yourselves’

We are told that we must clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience: the lived-out traits that become a reflection of new life. We are not told to feel these things, but to wear them, to put them on, to embody them. The image of putting on compassion or kindness, just as you would a jacket or scarf, is powerful. Clothes protect us, they keep us warm, they shield us from the wind and rain.  It’s difficult for many of us to remember how important clothing is, when our culture tells us fashions are something worn for a short season then discarded. When one owns six jackets in six different colors, it’s easy to forget how valuable a single warm jacket can be in keeping you warm enough to stay alive on a cold night. Clothing ourselves in this way, not as an accessory, but as a necessity, makes the idea of clothing ourselves in compassion, patience, and humility, a little different. Just as I would clothe myself in layers of warmth against the winter wind, I will clothe myself in layers of humility, patience, gentleness, because these prepare me for my resurrected life in Christ.

Prayer  God, clothe us, that we may live out the new life you gave us every day.

Sunday, Dec 27th

By: Brittany Fiscus

1 Samuel 2. 18-20, 26

Reflection—v. 19, ‘His mother used to make for him a little robe’

I love the small details that turn up in the scriptures, the random particulars like names or hair color or measurements that make the reader have to wonder ‘why do we need to know this?’  There are so many questions left unanswered in scripture, and yet its stories offer us these minute details that can seem so insignificant to the narrative as a whole.  The story of Samuel, the boy promised to God by his otherwise barren mother and raised to become a great prophet who would anoint kings, includes the small detail that his mother used to make him a ‘little robe’ every year and bring it to him.  How is that important?  How is this small detail significant in the midst of great sacrifices and prophesies?  But I think it is in the little details that God speaks to us, that God works through us.  Sure, it’s only a ‘little robe’ made by Samuel’s mother, but it’s the robe in which Samuel ministered before the Lord.    The gift of a simple article of clothing is included in this story because it mattered. When we cannot be together, small gifts can be a gesture of love, an assurance that our needs are cared for.

Prayer God of big and little things, teach us that everything given in love matters.