Worship: Sunday, July 5, 2020

Worship: Sunday, June 28, 2020

Worship: Sunday, June 21, 2020

Making Amends

Youth Daily Devotional Blog: 06/16

Written by: Intern Sam B. Nguyen
Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:23-26
Rarely in life do we find ourselves in major conflict with the people we care about. If anything, most of the friction we might have is pretty minor. But just because conflict or friction is small doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter, especially when it happens a lot. When I was younger I got into a lot of these kinds of conflicts with my sister. Whether it was over who got to use the car or how long we used our shared bathroom in the mornings, arguments were a common part of our sibling relationship. While we both were willing to ignore these conflicts and all the minor ways that we annoyed each other, those little things always ended up building over time and would lead to bigger and bigger arguments. Sometimes, we really resented each other over these small things.

Jesus reminds us that all arguments and conflicts are worth confronting, dealing with, and forgiving. Whether they are the big arguments that feel heavy or the small conflicts that we think we can just ignore, Jesus encourages us to speak to those that we have something against or that have something against us so that we can reconcile with them. In this passage, Jesus says that we shouldn’t even participate in certain faith practices before we make things right with those who we are in conflict with.

The Call to Self-Care

Youth Daily Devotional Blog: 06/09

Written by: Intern Sam B. Nguyen
Scripture Reading: 1 Kings 19:1-9
I remember waking up yesterday absolutely exhausted. My chest felt heavy and thick with a kind of stagnant emotion, like it was filled with old lake water. Although I had slept — though not as much I probably should have — I still felt as tired as I had the night before. This exhaustion, I noticed, wasn’t physical. It was grounded in something much more ephemeral, spiritual even. It was despair. Hopelessness. The emptiness of my spiritual well that had been created by overexertion and overuse. The incredible number of stresses that I am sure we all have been facing lately had been tearing me down, and it finally came to a head that morning.

I imagine that Elijah must have felt very much the same way in this passage. Here, the prophet Elijah flees from persecution from the reigning queen of Israel, his home nation. After his life is literally threatened by the queen, Elijah escapes to the wilderness, and as he is filled with this overwhelming emotion, he asks God if he would be allowed to die. And, seeing him in his exhaustion and spiritual drain, God shows a kind of personal care that can only be described as familial and intimate. An angel comes to Elijah, helping him get up and eat. For forty nights, Elijah is carefully cared for by this angel. “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you”, the angel says (1 Kings 19:7 NRSV).

We are all on long journeys, both individually and on a community level. God sees us in our exhaustion, and knows that we cannot make the entirety of the journey alone. In that, God asks us to rest, eat, and drink, that we may make the journey well.

Worshop: Sunday, June 7, 2020

A History of Protest

Youth Daily Devotional Blog 06/04

Written by: Intern Sam B. Nguyen
Scripture Reading: Luke 23:44-48
I went to an interfaith vigil for George Floyd yesterday. It was a small affair that took place in a residential neighborhood for only a few hours. A few ministers and spiritual from different local churches and mosques in the surrounding community came to speak on how their faith interacted with the police brutality and the long history violence that our Black peers have been facing. It was tear-filled, agony-inducing, and deeply painful. One point that a minister made stuck with me though. Christianity is a faith whose history is laced with uprising, protest, and the unstopping fight for justice. From the beginning, it was a faith defined by its overwhelming ties to love, especially when that love was at the cost of strife.

After all, the man, Jesus of Nazareth, was one dark-skinned man in a long line of dark-skinned men slaughtered by an institution of political oppression and violence.

We cannot divorce ourselves from that history. We cannot separate ourselves from the political implications of Jesus’s life. And just as heaven wept at Jesus’s murder, I imagine it weeps for every unjust murder that takes place today.

God in the face of Injustice

Youth Daily Devotional Blog: 06/02

Written by: Intern Sam B. Nguyen
Scripture Reading: Daniel 3:24-28
Our God is one of many characteristics. He is a God of kindness. He is a God of love. He is a God of forgiveness. And he is a God of justice.

I remember not too long ago, I was sitting in on a pastor’s sermon during a visit to New York City. He was a sweet man, all cargo shorts and floral shirts. The worship was taking place in Central Park, and I remember the serenity of the scene distinctly in my mind. The birds were chirping in the trees, and the sun was high in the sky. Not far, a family of bikers rolled through, giving us gentle waves. However, despite the pastor’s calming demeanor and the beautiful space that we were worshipping in, the topic matter of his sermon was one of violent significance. New York City is a city well known for its history of civic unrest, protest, and public fights against injustice. He was reminding his congregation of the violence that often was the cost of social justice. He reminded the congregation that God was, is, and will be a God of justice, and despite our reservations, God calls us to stand by justice.

This short scripture in Daniel is nothing if not proof of God’s call to fighting injustice. Here, three worshippers of God — Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego — are thrown into a flaming furnace because they choose to protest the rule of an unjust king. They are meant to die here, as cost for their refusal to listen to the king’s rule. But they don’t. When the king looks into the furnace, he sees the three men perfectly safe, protected from the flames by the presence of God. And just as God stood by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when they were punished for standing against unjust rule, God stands by us in our acts of protest.