Tuesday, March 31, 2020

30 New Days - Day 14

The 14th  day of a 30 day devotional Bible Study by the Rev. Tracy A. Siegman, Senior Pastor FCC, Covington, KY.  Shared with her gracious permission.

If you read the suggested passage each day, by the end of 30 days you will have read the entire New Testament.

Day 14
30-day reading plan: Acts 1 – 7

Daily Verse: Acts 2: 42
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer .

Jesus created a community of believers in the Disciples who would carry on His ministry and teach and preach what they had heard after He was taken up. The Apostles, the 11 Disciples plus Matthias, taught what they had learned and spoke of what they had witnessed. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, a new community was built of the family of believers. It grew and grew as the Apostles preached and people came to believe.

The community of believers devoted themselves to listening to the Apostle's teaching, prayer, and table fellowship. This was the earliest model of worship. They devoted themselves to worship, because they could learn what Jesus had taught and had done. They could be strengthened by the fellowship of other believers. They could pray together. You might say this model started on Jesus' last night when He and the Disciples ate together, sang songs, and went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. The Apostles gave this tradition to the new community of believers.

It is important that Christians today devote themselves to worship in a community of believers. It was the act of the first church which has been handed down to us through the ages. In worship, we pray as a community for one another. We learn God's word as it is proclaimed. We share in table fellowship as we partake of the Lord's Supper.

Regular attendance in worship is vital to your faith journey, just as it was to the first community of believers. When you join a church and participate in its community, you create a covenant that you will journey in faith together and encourage one another to grow spiritually.

Question for reflection:
Why do you attend worship?

Monday, March 30, 2020

30 New Days - Day 13

The 13th  day of a 30 day devotional Bible Study by the Rev. Tracy A. Siegman, Senior Pastor FCC, Covington, KY.  Shared with her gracious permission.

If you read the suggested passage each day, by the end of 30 days you will have read the entire New Testament.

Day 13
30-day reading plan: John 14 – 21

Daily Verse: John 20: 22
And with that he breated on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

As Jesus prepares for his death, He must prepare His Disciples for His departure. On the last night with His friends, Jesus makes promises to the Disciples. He says He is going to God, but He will prepare a place for them there and return to take them there. He promises that what they ask God in His name will be heard and granted. This section of the Gospel of John is called His farewell discourse.

As He ends His final words to the Disciples, Jesus prays for the Disciples and prays for those of us who will come to believe. His prayer is that we will be a united community by which others will know we are His followers. This unity will be the work of the promised Advocate or Companion who will remind us of Jesus' teachings and continue to teach us. Just as Jesus had promised in Chapter 14, the Resurrected Christ gives the Disciples the Holy Spirit.

We understand God as transcendent, above all, and almighty in Heaven. We understand Jesus as the incarnation or embodiment of God. The Holy Spirit, however, we have trouble understanding. God is imminent or present in the power and work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Divine Presence in and among humanity today. The Spirit is the One who indwells all of humanity and, yet, surrounds us.

Jesus continues to breathe the Holy Spirit in the church among His disciples today. Every time we gather for worship, every time we gather for fellowship, every time we gather for study and prayer, every time we gather for mission, Jesus breaths into us the Holy Spirit as inspiration, energy, comfort, and new life.

Question for reflection:
How do you talk about the Holy Spirit at work in this age?

Sunday, March 29, 2020

30 New Days - Day 12

The 12th  day of a 30 day devotional Bible Study by the Rev. Tracy A. Siegman, Senior Pastor FCC, Covington, KY.  Shared with her gracious permission.

If you read the suggested passage each day, by the end of 30 days you will have read the entire New Testament.

Day 12
30-day reading plan: John 8 – 13

Daily Verse: John 8: 18
I am the one who testifies for myself, my other witness is the Father, who sent me.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, Moses is the first prophet called by God to speak a Divine word. When he is called by God to go speak to the Egyptian Pharoah to convince him to free the Hebrew slaves who have been crying out to God in their suffering, Moses asks, "Who should I say sent me?" God says tell them "I am who I am" (Exodus 3:14).

The Jewish Christians, to whom John writes, know that God's unspoken name is I Am. In the Gospel of John, Jesus reveals who He is in relationship to God by drawing on God's name, I Am. Seven times, Jesus says, "I am" and a metaphor for those listening to understand who He is as the Son of God.

In these sayings, Jesus says, “I am the bread of life” (6:35), “I am the gate” (10:7), “I am the light of the world” (8:12), “I am the good shepherd” (10:11), “I am the resurrection and the life” (11:25), “I am the way and the truth and the life” (14:6), and “I am the true vine” (15:1). In all of the “I am” sayings, Jesus tells us about His relationship with God.

In the classic movie, The Wizard of Oz, the gang journeys together along the yellow brick road to meet the great and powerful Oz. They are disappointed to find that it was all the show of a man, smoke and mirrors. Jesus is not just a man behind the curtain whose wisdom comes from age or miracles are just show. Jesus is the Son of God speaking the Truth and Wisdom of God and performing signs by the Power of God, because He is one with the Father.

Question for reflection:
Which of the “I Am” sayings helps you best understand Jesus’ relationship to God?

Friday, March 27, 2020

30 New Days - Day 11

The 11th  day of a 30 day devotional Bible Study by the Rev. Tracy A. Siegman, Senior Pastor FCC, Covington, KY.  Shared with her gracious permission.

If you read the suggested passage each day, by the end of 30 days you will have read the entire New Testament.

Day 11
30-day reading plan: John 1 – 7

Daily Verse: John 1: 18
No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

All the signs in the Gospel of John are meant to reveal that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. As people begin to follow Jesus, He reveals Himself through signs. There is the first sign of turning water into wine; then, there is the sign of His healing of the official's son. John calls these signs that reveal He is the Son of God.

Historically, some believed that Jesus was a spirit that looked like a man, a belief based on the Johannine claim that Jesus pre-existed His birth. The Gospel of John doesn’t give a story of Jesus’ birth; instead, the beginning is very esoteric. It is important to John that his readers understand that Jesus is at once a man and God. Jesus was flesh and blood man and that tenet of the Christian doctrine is important to the faith.

So, we should look at the evidence in the Gospel of John that reveals Jesus’ humanity. John doesn’t include a birth narrative like Matthew and Luke, but does tell us that Jesus had a mother and brothers. Jesus gives a final breath on the cross when He dies. There is evidence throughout the Gospel of John that is meant to reveal to us that Jesus is at once the Son of Man and the Son of God.

In order to save humanity, God came down to live as one of us in all our sufferings, suffering ultimately in a horrific death with betrayal and humiliation. We are tempted to think sometimes that God doesn’t understand our human suffering; because of the life Jesus lived, God knows.

Question for reflection:
What Scripture passage comforts you in your suffering revealing God’s understanding and presence?

Thursday, March 26, 2020

30 New Days - Day 10

The 10th  day of a 30 day devotional Bible Study by the Rev. Tracy A. Siegman, Senior Pastor FCC, Covington, KY.  Shared with her gracious permission.

If you read the suggested passage each day, by the end of 30 days you will have read the entire New Testament.

Day 10

30-day reading plan: Luke 19 - 24
Daily Verse: Luke 22: 19
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

There is a church in Lexington, Ky that has a cross hanging above the Communion Table made of broken pieces of stained glass. It reminds me of the broken bread and the broken body of Jesus upon the cross. I don’t know if that was the intention of the one who made the cross or if other people in worship see it that way, but that’s how I see it.

I looked at that cross many times while taking communion as I worshipped in that community. It called me to reflection on my brokenness and the brokenness of all those around me. Abuse, neglect, illness, addiction, failed relationships, unemployment, disatisfying work, difficult studies, barely making ends meet, racism, sexism, injustice and inequality are among many things that leave us feeling broken into pieces and leaving our hearts aching and minds at unease.

Looking at the cross of broken pieces of glass hanging above the Table as I took bread and juice assured me that at the Table a broken people are pieced back together by grace into a work of art. There is still evidence of our brokenness but what God fashions of our pieces is lovely and beautiful.

On the last night that Jesus gathered around a table with His friends, He shared the Passover meal and drew the attention of His dinner companions to the bread and wine of the meal. He said to eat the bread in remembrance of His broken body to tell us that He understands brokenness and knows God’s ability to piece us back together.

Question for reflection:
What kind of grace do you think the Lord’s Supper offers you?

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

30 New Days - Day 9

The 9th  day of a 30 day devotional Bible Study by the Rev. Tracy A. Siegman, Senior Pastor FCC, Covington, KY.  Shared with her gracious permission.

If you read the suggested passage each day, by the end of 30 days you will have read the entire New Testament.

Day 9

30-day reading plan: Luke 12 – 18
Daily Verse: Luke 18: 12
I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.

The Pharisee was proud to say that he tithed and fasted. The Pharisees counted themselves righteous for keeping the Law, yet they missed the intent of the Law which is justice. The Law is about justice for the poor, widowed, and orphans. The intent of tithing is to be generous with God that the poor, widows, and orphans may be cared for. More than the other Gospels, Luke makes a great effort to focus Jesus' teaching and healing on those disadvantaged in society.

In Chapter 20, Luke presents Jesus' teaching about the Pharisees who devour widows' houses. Then, Luke follows that with the story of the widow's offering. Jesus acknowledged that some have much to give while others have less to give. We often think about how much the widow was willing to give God and thus trust that she will be provided for. The story of the widow's offering is not about her trust, generosity, or commitment to tithing. It sheds light on the injustices of society that the required Temple tax cost her everything she had to live on. The tithes of the righteous were meant to care for the poor, widows and orphans who have nothing to give, not take everything they have.

The tithes given to the church should come from a heart of generosity and commitment to God with a concern for justice. Church budgets and ministries should reflect a desire for justice so that we spend our money on caring for the disadvantaged and we give our time to advocating for an end to the injustices that hold them captive. Therefore, don't give out of righteousness; give out of your humble generosity and hunger for justice.

Questions for reflection:
Do you give a tithe (10%) or an offering (less than 10%) to the church? Does the church budget reflect a commitment to justice?
How are you generous in addition to your tithe or offering?

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

30 New Days - Day 8

The 8th  day of a 30 day devotional Bible Study by the Rev. Tracy A. Siegman, Senior Pastor FCC, Covington, KY.  Shared with her gracious permission.
If you read the suggested passage each day, by the end of 30 days you will have read the entire New Testament.

Day 8
30-day reading plan: Luke 7 – 11

Daily Verse: Luke 9: 54
When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?”

Jesus had decided to travel through Samaria to Jerusalem, on His way to the cross. Some of His followers were sent ahead to prepare for His arrival. For some reason, the Samaritans wanted nothing to do with Him. It could be that they didn't want all the traffic through town and the strain such a great following would put on the city. It could be that they knew He wasn't going to stay long enough to teach and heal so they didn't want Him to come if He wasn't going to do what they would have wanted Him to do. It could be that they had started to hear some grumbling about Him and didn't want to get caught up in the trouble He was going to.

The Disciples James and John have an astonishing reaction. They offer to call down fire from Heaven like the prophet Elijah had done on the Samaritans in 2 Kings 1. A hefty judgment for the Samaritans’ rejection.

We may have the same inclination to reject Jesus when it seems He isn't going to do what we want Him to do so we try to do it ourselves. We may reject His way if it seems it's not going to be easy so we go our own way. Luckily, at least I think, James and John aren't ready to call down fire when we go our own way or do it ourselves. Instead, Jesus patiently waits on us to choose to follow His way or do it His way.

It is not easy to follow Jesus. There is a cost to discipleship. We may be asked to do things we don’t think we’re capable of doing. There is sacrifice required in following Jesus. God gives us the gifts and grace to succeed and patience in our failings, not fire and brimstone.

Question for reflection:
When was the last time you rejected Jesus’ way for your own?

Monday, March 23, 2020

Working from Home

I'm working from home.  I’ve worked from home before for a day or two, usually when I wasn’t feeling quite well enough to inflict myself on other humans or when the weather was really bad. But for the last week+ I have had to work from home because the Governor said people like me - over 65 with asthma/COPD and other illnesses - need to stay at home in isolation.  I’ve never worked from home for this long before.  It’s a very different experience.

When I’m working at home for a day or so, I can wear sweats or pjs and my fuzzy cat-icorn slippers.  But under the current circumstances, I realized pretty much right away that I couldn’t focus the way I need to if I treat this as a one or two day work at home situation.  So I follow my usual routine and dress each morning as if I were going in to the church office, go to my “office” between 8 and 9 am, get up from my desk when my watch tells me it’s time to stand. and change into my at-home clothes when I get “home” at the end of the day.  

The office section of my den at the Parsonage wasn’t really set up for work-work.  It was a pretty casual area used mostly for personal writing, letters, reading and such.  So I had to do some rearranging to make it a more effective work space.  I needed space for commentaries and study bibles that usually live in another room.  One main difference is that in the church office I eat at my desk, while at home I eat at the kitchen table.  Plus, cats. When I work from home I have to accept that the Cats will “help” me work.

I am working harder. It’s much more difficult to control my hours when my office is also the place I spend my free time.  My friends and colleagues have been surprised to discover that NOT holding worship in the sanctuary is much more work than our usual Sunday worship.  We’ve had to learn how to do online worship on the fly.  We’ve had to figure out ways to mobilize and empower the congregation to reach out to each other more than they usually do.  We’ve had to walk a tightrope between getting the work of the church office done (mail and bill paying and newsletters) while keeping our folks and ourselves safe and healthy.  And we’ve had to find ways to comfort our members,  soothing the fears and concerns they rightfully are experiencing even as we experience the same feelings.  

We don’t know how long this will last, this whole working at home thing.  But we do know that we will get through it, because God is with us.  

30 New Days - Day 7

The 7th day of a 30 day devotional Bible Study by the Rev. Tracy A. Siegman, Senior Pastor FCC, Covington, KY.  Shared with her gracious permission.

If you read the suggested passage each day, by the end of 30 days you will have read the entire New Testament.

Day 7
30-day reading plan: Luke 1 – 6

Daily Verse: Luke 6: 28
Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Queen Margaret's rant in Act 1 scene 3 of Shakespeare's Richard III is prophetic narrative as her curses of the current court are realized by the end of the play. Queen Margaret heaps most of her curses on Richard, because he is responsible for her heartache - the loss of her husband, son, and throne. Though, she is responsible for the murder of his father and brother and the inspiration of his evil acts.

Our favorite movies and plays portray the story of people avenging the wrong done to them and acting badly after vowing allegiance to evil for the gain of power over those responsible for their misery. Well written characters make us feel pity for the way they have been wronged. We're torn between wanting vengeance against their enemy or wanting forgiveness and reconciliation with their enemy.

Jesus calls us to be reconciled with those we count enemies. We're not supposed to wish them harm. We're not supposed to hope for karma. We're not to repay evil with evil. We're to treat them the way that we want them to treat us. Jesus came to reconcile us to God. He lived for us to be reconciled to God and one another and that is why He instructs us to bless those who curse us and pray for those who mistreat us.

It is not easy to wish well those who have treated us poorly or spread rumors about us. That’s the point of faith. Rev. Dr. Teresa Dulyea-Parker once said, “If it’s the easy way, it’s not faith.” Forgiveness and reconciliation are important values of faith. When we want to hold on to the hurt and anger, we are called to let it go so we can allow the wounds to heal. When we harbor ill will, we continue to hurt. Only forgiveness and blessing allow us to heal.

Question for reflection:
Is there someone who hurt you that you need to treat better?

Sunday, March 22, 2020

30 New Days - Day 6

The 6th day of a 30 day devotional book by the Rev. Tracy A. Siegman, Senior Pastor FCC, Covington, KY.  Shared with her gracious permission.

Day 6
30-day reading plan: Mark 9 – 16

Daily Verse: Mark 10: 9

Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.
Author and TV personality, Steve Harvey, on his premiere in the 2015 fall season had a dialogue between men and women about our differences. One woman asked why men she has dated don’t want to talk about marriage. The men surveyed said they don’t talk about marriage, because it’s not that big a deal to them. Harvey said men are more concerned with marriage and women are more concerned about the wedding, because women dream of their wedding day from the time they are little girls.

When it comes to weddings, I don’t typically like to perform them, because they often have little to do with God and more to do with all the pomp and circumstance and unity candles and bird seed. Men aren’t into the details of planning the wedding and often have little input about the ceremony. During pre-marital counseling, I was discussing the ceremony with a couple. The bride-to-be looked at her fiancé for his thoughts. He said, “It doesn’t matter to me. This is your day.”
Perhaps men have it right. We should focus less on the wedding day and more on the marriage, especially the vows. Marriage is more than one very expensive day. A wedding is the celebration of the beginning of a life-long commitment that won’t survive if the couple doesn’t think as much about how they will spend their life as the bride does on the details of the day.

The exchange of vows and rings are the words and symbols of a couple’s commitment to one another before God and their loved ones. If a couple takes seriously their vows, they invite God into their relationship and look to God for the patience and forgiveness required of marriage. Love alone isn’t enough to take you to your 50th wedding anniversary.

Question for reflection:
What advice would you give a young couple about marriage?

Saturday, March 21, 2020

30 New Days - Day 5

The 5th day of a 30 day devotional book by the Rev. Tracy A. Siegman, Senior Pastor FCC, Covington, KY.  Shared with her gracious permission.

Day 5
30-day reading plan: Mark 1 – 8
Daily Verse: Mark 1: 31

So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

There is an inspirational sign in my house that says, "Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground in the morning the devil says, 'Oh No! She's up!'" Brooke was that kind of woman.
I met Brooke the first week of classes at seminary. She was an unofficial shepherd to new students who helped me get acclimated to the academic life. She challenged my theological thinking and taught me how to fry an egg in bacon grease.

Brooke had an aneurysm in the classroom caused by a rare disease and had spent the last year in rehab. She was not the type of woman to be kept down long. She worked hard to regain strength so she could come back to school and finish her journey. She had a short life expectancy due to Morphan’s disease and she was determined to reach her goal in that short time. Her life's dream was to be ordained into Christian ministry. Her perseverance was inspirational to me on the days when the journey to graduation and ordination seemed too difficult.

For the day of her ordination, many of her friends drove several hours away to be a part of the joyous day. In the weeks after, we talked about her ministry. She didn’t feel called to preach every Sunday, but was not physically able to do full-time youth ministry. I wondered with her what ministry for her would be. When she died a year later, I realized what her ministry had been. She was a shepherd to many students at seminary. She was an encourager and an advocate for preparing ministers to care for themselves. On more than one occasion, she was my pastor. No matter our ability, God gives us the gifts and grace to fulfill our calling.

Question for reflection:
Who are you shepherding?

Friday, March 20, 2020

30 New Days - Day 4

The 4th day of a 30 day devotional book by the Rev. Tracy A. Siegman, Senior Pastor FCC, Covington, KY.  Shared with her gracious permission.

Day 4
30-day reading plan: Matthew 23 – 28

Daily Verse: Matthew 26: 75
Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

This section of Matthew has some scary imagery. Six times Jesus refers to a place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth in a place of darkness or a blazing furnace. These stories and parables are considered by many to be about the coming eternity of suffering for those who don’t believe.

These images invoke fear that some of our unbelieving friends and family may experience this dark place. Still, some may fear that they are not good enough or don’t do enough to merit Heaven and will instead find one’s self in a dark eternity. Perhaps Heaven-bound believers experience our own outer darkness and weeping in this life.

Peter wept bitterly outside in the dark after denying that he knew Jesus. Peter cried with a broken heart convicted by the revelation that he had betrayed his vow to Jesus to follow Him to the end. Peter had the opportunity to profess before the Risen Lord his continued faith. Peter didn’t deserve the opportunity to repent, but that’s the essence of grace. We get what we don’t deserve.

Recently, Rev. Nadia Bolz Weberi said grace is her undoing. She is broken hearted by her limitations and moved to weeping by the grace she receives for all her failures. “God, who is gracious and merciful and slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, loves you as you are.” Grace, at once, “breaks me apart and puts me back together.” For the ways in which we fail, in the moments we find ourselves weeping in darkness the grace of God absolves us and restores us. We receive this grace through our faith in the Risen Lord.

Question for reflection:
What causes you to weep?

Thursday, March 19, 2020

30 New Days - Day 3

The 3rd day of a 30 day devotional book by the Rev. Tracy A. Siegman, Senior Pastor FCC, Covington, KY.  Shared with her gracious permission.

Day 3
30-day reading plan: Matthew 16 – 22

Daily Verse: Matthew 21: 31b
Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.

Many are not excited to have a pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses knock on their door. The JWs believe differently than we believe and typically talk of doom and gloom in their visit. Plus, they come knocking on the door at the most inconvenient time. But, I have a special connection to JWs, because my great grandparents were JWs. When they bring me a copy of their magazine, the Watchtower, I feel a special connection to my great grandparents.

The JWs that usually visit my home like to interpret the “signs of the times” as a warning that the end is near and Jesus is coming again. They can be real Debbie Downers. The 2 women who came to visit today were different. They were concerned about the state of the world believing the world was not headed in the right direction – not toward the Kingdom of God. But, they weren’t worried about our imminent demise.

We decided that if every person in the world respected every other human being and recognized him/her as a child of God then there would be an end to the world as we know it. Perhaps the end will not come in fire and brimstone. I hope the Kingdom of God will come in an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it transforming of our minds in which we will all finally recognize that each person has the life breath of God within him/her and is worthy of our love.

The second greatest commandment is “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 22: 39). The Father asks His children to do the work of loving our neighbors. When we stop judging others who are not like us, stop perpetuating all the –isms and love others because of our differences, we will be able to say we did what our Father wanted.

Question for reflection:
What 1 thing can you do to increase the love you show others?

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

30 New Days - Day 2

Day 2
The 2nd day of a 30 day devotional book by the Rev. Tracy A. Siegman, Senior Pastor FCC, Covington, KY.  Shared with her gracious permission.

30-day reading plan: Matthew 10 – 15
Daily Verse: Matthew 13: 8
Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.

Much of the Midwest is flatlands farmed for corn, soybeans, and wheat. The flat land is perfect for growing crops. In central Illinois, where I live in a small farming community, we rely on the harvest for much of our economy. We pray for rain, sun, and a safe harvest. The seasons of the year are marked by the fields being planted, growing, being harvested and resting.

Farming in Israel and Palestine is much different. The landscape is hilly and barren after decades of war. When I had the opportunity to visit Palestine several years ago, I planted a tree in Bethlehem. You might expect to plant an olive tree, but I planted an apricot tree. As I was digging in the soil, I couldn’t help but think of the Parable of the Sower. I was planting the tree on the side of a hill. There were rocks and thorny weeds in the soil. The soil needed those rocks and sturdy weeds to hold the soil in place during rainy seasons so it would not get washed down the side of the hill.

These are the landscapes Jesus would have been referring to when teaching about the Parable of the Sower. He would have known that the rocks and weeds would be among the soil where the sower was sowing seed. He would have known that good soil, rocks and thorny weeds would be all mixed up together.

We grow in good soil with rocks and thorny weeds around us. We have to have the rocks and sturdy weeds of friends and family. We need them to hold us in place so that we don’t get washed away when the rains come. Because, the rains will come.

Questions for reflection:
Who are the friends and family who help your roots grow deep and your branches tall? 
How do these friends and family support you?

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

30 New Days - Day 1

The first day of a 30 day devotional book by the Rev. Tracy A. Siegman.  Shared with her gracious permission.

Day 1
30-day reading plan: Matthew 1 – 9
Daily Verse: Matthew 2: 2b
We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.

I recently saw a church sign that said: “Take God on your vacation.” How do you pack God? Where do I get a Divine size suitcase? Does God fly first class? Will God mind sitting in the backseat with the dog? I’d be more than a little concerned if you think you can fit the whole of God in the back of the minivan or in the overhead compartment. So, how do we take God on vacation?
We don’t have to pack God to take with us to the beach or a cabin in the woods. God is already there, in the trunk of the car and the airplane’s baggage area. God is omnipresent which means God is eternally everywhere all the time. We don’t need to take God with us, because God is here, there and along the way.

The church sign may have had something to do with our inclination to not attend church on vacation. I think the reason we don’t attend church on vacation is because our community is not there. An important aspect of worship is gathering as a community. We consider church our family. When we are on vacation, our community is not there. Worship feels different at another church, because the people we are used to seeing in worship are not there.

The Maji traveled to go to God with us, Immanuel. They left their community in search of God in the flesh. When we travel on vacation, we have the opportunity to seek God in a new place among a different community, even if only for one Sunday. Our vacation is not a time away from God, but an opportunity to meet God in a new place. I’m sure the church community you visit will be overjoyed by your visit.

Questions for reflection:
How do you worship God when you are away from home?
If you winter away from home, have you found a community to worship with at your winter home?

Rev. Tracy A. Siegman
Senior Pastor
First Christian Church (DOC)
14 W. Fifth St.

Covington, KY 41011

30 New Days - Introduction

The Rev. Tracy Siegman has very generously offered the use of her Devotional Book titled  30 New Days for our use during this time when we cannot see each other face to face.   She says:

This is a 30-day devotional book that follows a 30-day New Testament reading plan. Each day has a suggested reading of Scripture. If you follow the suggested readings each day, you will have read through the New Testament in the time you work through these devotions. This daily reading will take about 15 minutes.

Each day also has a daily verse which has been selected from that day's suggested reading. The devotion for the day is based on the daily verse. You can read through this devotion just reading the daily verse, but you will miss reading the verse in its context.

This is not a typical devotional book. Each devotion attempts to draw on a theme of that day's suggested reading or the theology of something from that day's reading. I will suggest interpretations and share my theological thoughts on topics like the Lord's Supper, baptism, sanctification, and the Holy Spirit. I end each devotion with a question for reflection rather than a prayer. I hope that after your reflection on Scripture you will pray in your own words.

This may be for your private devotion or this may be a great resource for your Bible study. Together, you can share your thoughts on the Question for Reflection of the day’s devotion. However you read it, I hope you will reflect on your relationship with God and the world.

May the God of abundance bless you generously, 
Rev. Tracy A. Siegman
Senior Pastor
First Christian Church (DOC)
14 W. Fifth St.

Covington, KY 41011

I will post a new devotion from the book each day.  May they be a blessing to you.
Pastor Maria

Monday, March 16, 2020

March 16, 2020. A Meditation from Pastor Maria

A Meditation from Pastor Maria
March 16, 2020
Yesterday, like many other churches in our denomination and in our community of Selma, we held our last in-person worship service for a while.  We will be moving online for now.  We don’t know how long that will last, but we do know that community is important even when we can’t see each other.  

This is the first of the daily devotions that will be posted to give us each something to consider and talk about during this time when we cannot meet in person.   I would invite you to read the passage and consider the questions, then call or message a friend and share your thoughts together.  Especially consider calling your friends who do not use the internet as much as you do, so they, too, can be part of this time of devotion in community with others.

We are all having to deal with so many restrictions and changes in our daily lives, with every indication that more are on the way.  We are living under a State of Emergency in a state of uncertainty.  We don’t deal well with uncertainty.  We like to know what is coming next so we can make plans.  And when we don’t know what to expect, we worry.

Philippians 4:6-7 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  

What worries you today?
What would you pray for today?  
What would bring you peace of mind?