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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, October 22, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Deuteronomy 26:1–11

When you have come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, “Today I declare to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.” When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the Lord your God, you shall make this response before the Lord your God: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O Lord, have given me.” You shall set it down before the Lord your God and bow down before the Lord your God. Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house. (NRSV)

I am so grateful for God’s gift of place.

Linda and I arrived at Fourth Church fifteen years ago a little discouraged. We had just finished spending several years trying to establish a start-up church in the Chicago suburbs. It was fun, sometimes rewarding, and a lot of work! Invitations, phone calls, door-to-door visits, setting up every Sunday in a middle school and storing everything after the service to be ready to start over again on Monday. We got to a regular attendance of about eighty but ran out of funding and merged with another church. We were devastated.

There are a lot of great churches between our home in the suburbs and Fourth Presbyterian Church. A little lost, we wandered a lot. Eventually, realizing we were acting very self-centered and not living at all like we believed, we found our place at Fourth Church.

We feel community on Sunday as we usher and greet people who support each other and worship together, as children enjoy being together at classes. We feel community during the week as we join others who arrive to plan and engage in ministries and mission, as guests are greeted and included, as we enjoy music, learning, and fellowship. We are blessed with a wonderful church, capable of great things.

Community is our bounty. This is the season to give back to God for all God has provided and plant the seeds to help us grow even stronger.

God, keep me “on edge,” aware of what you have provided, and show me how to be more effective using your blessings. Amen.

Written by Gerry Bloomer, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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