Mission Devotional - October 6, 2016

Opening Prayer: One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. - Psalm 27:4-5

Scripture: Psalm 27:1-8

Journal: How often do you simply sit in God's presence and gaze upon him, and he upon you? Try that today. Sense the love and the healing and the connection that comes from simply being with him. Try this for a period of time each day and see what it begins to do in you.

Reflection: Unlike meditation, an active and reflective kind of prayer, contemplation is a more passive and receptive way to pray in which silent presence exposes the final poverty of a "figuring things out" approach to prayer. Contemplation is seeing, beholding, being in the presence of something that eludes our ability to capture it in concepts or language. In the Christian tradition, contemplative prayer involves not only seeing but also, and even more to the point, being seen by God.

All relationships, including our relationship with God, are born and sustained in acts of mutual regard, seeing another and being seen by another. How we are seen determines the emotional ground of our interactions. If shame forms the emotional atmosphere of our being seen by God, others, and self, corrosive self-hatred can be the only outcome. But ground our relationships - our experiences of seeing and being seen by God, self, and others -in compassionate grace, and appropriate self-love has a chance of taking hold, growing, prospering.

Grace empowers contemplation with compassion, and only in that reassuring place do we dare to take tentative steps in the direction of seeing ourselves as God see us. Healing happens only when we trust enough to be "exposed" in the presence of another and find ourselves embraced rather than condemned to lonely self-derision.

What happens in God's compassionate presence is that without our knowing how or when, God's loving care slowly heals our vision, rearranges our memories, and takes our story into the heart of the revolutionary story of the death and resurrection of Jesus. God's compassionate presence, if given a chance, keeps extending the depth and breadth of its silent, healing touch until one day, quite miraculously, we notice that our need to demonize ourselves has ever so slightly loosened its grip on our soul. This is the slow work of grace. (The Grace of Mattering: Safety from Shame by Joe McHugh, Weavings, Volume XXXI, Number 4, Aug/Sept/Oct 2016)

Prayer for the church, for others, for myself

J & F live and work in one of the poorest and most heavily populated states in a country in Asia. They are seeking to make a difference in this state in both physical and spiritual realms. They have launched a micro-finance business that is creating self-sustaining means of support for churches and church plants as well as continuing to provide funds for the installation of hand pumps to provide clean water to needy areas of the state. Pray today for several people who are currently considering joining this work that they will clearly discern God's will.

Bridges International serves the needs of international students adjusting to living and studying at the University of Tennessee. Pray today for the international students on campus that they may understand the love of Jesus during this semester.

Closing Prayer: You have said, "Seek my face." My heart says to you, "Your face, Lord, do I seek." Hide not your face from me. - Psalm 27:8-9