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Wednesday, March 13

Genesis 50:15-26, Mark 8:11-26,
I Corinthians 12:4-11 (NRSV)
Now there are varieties of gifts but the same Spirit, and there are varieties of services but the same Lord, and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of powerful deeds, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.


Our Lenten Devotionals this year are focused on a theme of the “Love for Others – Hospitality and Service.”  These activities have long been considered as a central tenet of the Christian faith, but recently they seem to have become so rare that they become newsworthy.  I have chosen three of the passages in the lectionary for today, each providing insight into recognizing and meeting our opportunities for service to others.

The passage from Genesis is the not quite so familiar end of the story of Joseph, his brothers, and the move of Israel into Egypt.  Jacob has died; and Joseph, his brothers, and a large delegation of the elders of Egypt take his body for burial in Canaan.  They all return to Egypt, but when they arrive, the brothers realize that without their father present, Joseph may take revenge on them for what they had done to him.  So, they go to him, begging his forgiveness.  Joseph forgives them because he had recognized that God’s plans are not the same as human plans. They had intended harm to Joseph, but God had intended to use Joseph to preserve these people, to make of them the great nation He had promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 

In most cases, we, like the brothers, simply do not see the opportunities present in our interactions with others.  But Joseph’s story tells us that if we do what is right, we can serve as instruments of God’s plan.

The passage in Mark’s gospel is all about seeing the importance of simple things that are going on around us, as opposed to showy, big-time specials.  It begins with Pharisees who come to argue with Jesus, demanding a sign from heaven to prove His authority.  His response is one of frustration, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? No sign will be given.”  He just gets in a boat with his disciples and leaves.  But in the boat, the disciples are all concerned that they have forgotten to bring bread.  Jesus asks them, “Why are you talking about having no bread?  Do you still not understand?”  He reminds them that they had five loaves for five thousand people and collected 12 baskets of left-over pieces.  Even more, they had seven loaves for four thousand and had seven baskets left over.  Finally, a blind man is brought to Jesus and He restores the man to perfect sight, but only after a second try and adjustment.  Jesus sends him home, telling him not to even bother going into the village.  In each case, something incredibly special has happened, but those participating in the activity don’t see or understand it.

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians speaks to our need to recognize the gifts and abilities we each have to use for the common good.  Although each ability is different, all are needed.  All are gifts from God, and it is God who activates them in everyone according to His plans. 


Dear God, in these times of stress and uncertainty, grant us the ability to recognize opportunities for our unique abilities to serve your intentions for our common good.  May we become active partners with others to sustain our common hopes as we pass through difficult times. Amen. 

Bob Gaugler