Devotional for January 4, 2015 –   RE:Purposing:  State of the Church           

 Written by Courtney McHill, United Methodist Pastor

Bible Background                                                                                                                                          

As we move into the New Year, we have a tradition at the CoOp of looking at the state of the church.  Where have we grown this year? What has challenged us?  Where do we feel God is calling us?  In addition, we use this Sunday to renew our covenant with God.  We have used Wesley’s prayer to help us renew this covenant to God, to each other and to the church.   We are still technically in the season of Christmas (the last Sunday before Epiphany) but with the New Year around us and as we look towards the season of Epiphany, it seems like a good time to revisit what it means to be in this place.

This is a challenging place to be this year.  We are not sure how we will be moving forward. The ground around us seems to be shifting. We know that God has placed immediate ministry in our path, but what does the future hold for our homeless and outreach ministries?  We know that God is calling us to be more intimate with one another but how will we accomplish that?  We know that we see gaps in our ministry that are starting to be filled.  How will we move forward?  We know that what it looks like for our pastors during the new year looks different but we aren’t sure how yet.

This all seems uncertain and unsettling.  In our narrative this season, we are looking at Matthew and in Matthew we have a story about an uncertain future for Jesus.  God appears to Joseph again in a dream (remember Matthew is the only one that really gives attention to Joseph) and tells the family to move.  Move to Egypt.  Move in a new direction. Move until I tell you to move again.  There isn’t a well mapped out plan just a vague sense of direction.  There isn’t a five year plan but the assurance that God will make sure there are new directions for the holy family.

I wish God would send a clear dream to show which direction to move.  It isn’t always that easy.  In this story, it is hard to read the in between story too.  There is destruction and hate.  Where is God for that plan?  Where is God for those small children? During the season, this is hard to read but in the end God shows up again.  God says to move this new direction. It will become what is good. There will be something more and something full of peace.  Bad stuff happens but God will move the good to where it needs to be.  God will overcome the darkness.

Do we trust this in the church? When it doesn’t look like the plan is for real but just a dream?  What if we did trust our dreams to lead us in new directions?  God re envisions and sends that vision in a dream.  The purpose becomes different than they thought. There is a re purposing to this story.  Re-establishing of purpose. This season we will be looking out how we can look at purpose again (re purpose). Taking what is to become something new and redirected.  Hopefully the church is constantly re purposing.

Quotes of the week   

“It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.” ― Erma Bombeck  


“We must never stop dreaming. Dreams provide nourishment for the soul, just as a meal does for the body.” ―Paulo CoelhoThe Pilgrimage 

“Dreams are the language of God.” ― Paulo Coelho


“Dreams, if they’re any good, are always a little bit crazy.” ― Ray Charles

“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.” ― Christopher Reeve

“This is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change.” ― Taylor Swift


Matthew 2:13-23 (NRSV) Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”

When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:

 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”

When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.”

Questions for the Week                                                                                                                                                                      

What are you excited about for the coming year?

Do you believe that God nudges us in certain directions?

How do we know where God would like us to move?


About pastorcourt

Courtney McHill is the pastor at Rose City Park United Methodist Church in Northeast Portland where they love compassionately and inclusively!
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