How can you release your need to be in control and give yourself over to God’s much bigger life today?

Practice for Today:The practice of giving is often thought of only in terms of generosity and the sharing of material possessions. But, we are called to give just as much because it takes faith, and it teaches us to release our reliance on our own abilities and resources. As we learn to give, so we learn to trust in God’s abundant life to sustain and empower us. Today, allow your giving to lead you into a deeper sense of trust in God’s grace.

Prayer for Today:As I give of myself and my resources, O God, so I learn to trust in your grace to sustain me.

All Readings for this Week

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Psalm 126 or Luke 1:46-55
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28
Isaiah 61 is the measure of whether one has been anointed by the spirit of the Lord or not. Good news for the oppressed not narrow views that suppress life and love; healing words that bind up the broken hearted not harsh speech that hurts; liberating words that free one from the fear that God is not ultimately and completely “for us.” It does not mean there are no words of correction or constraint. Just the opposite. Right behavior flows from right relationship and right relationship is established by unconditional love. Or as Jesus said, “Perfect love casts out all fear” When we live more fully into the unconditional love of God we are less likely to withhold love from others and ourselves which may actually be the harder of the two. The brokenhearted healed, the ones who mourn comforted, the faint of spirit made strong, all are signs of the Spirit whose speech blesses the world with light and love and liberty so that good news for the oppressed is just as good for the oppressor as freedom for the captive is ultimately freedom for the captor.
This is a liturgical song, part of public worship. V. 1a can be rendered as When the Lord brought back those who returned to Zion . When the people first returned from exile in Babylon, they hardly believed their good fortune (“like those who dream”). So great was their success that other nations (v. 2) recognized God’s mighty works on Israel’s behalf, and the people of Israel “rejoiced” (v. 3). But after the initial euphoria, life is difficult. Please, God, “restore our fortunes” (v. 4), as the land around a normally dry river in the desert (“Negeb”) blooms when the water flows. May we, who are sorrowful as we sow, gather the harvest in joyfulness – as God once more acts on our behalf.