Amy Jones,
Agape Coordinator
Dear God, we come to worship you today. 
We come to pray, and listen.
You always hear us. 
Help us to hear you. Amen
Scripture
Luke 6:1-11

1One sabbath while Jesus was going through the grainfields, his disciples plucked some heads of grain, rubbed them in their hands, and ate them. 2But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” 3Jesus answered, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4He entered the house of God and took and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and gave some to his companions?” 5Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”

6On another sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. 7The scribes and the Pharisees watched him to see whether he would cure on the sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him. 8Even though he knew what they were thinking, he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” He got up and stood there. 9Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to destroy it?” 10After looking around at all of them, he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was restored. 11But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.
Devotional
As more people get vaccinated I’ve heard some people express anxiety about getting “back to normal.” I heard one man talk about how his office building was going to start opening up in the coming weeks but he wasn’t looking forward to the commute, or the time away from his kids, or the return of office politics. Having spent a year adjusting to pandemic life, many of us realize that the way things were wasn’t so great.

“Don’t waste a pandemic” was a refrain I heard at a recent virtual conference I attended. I don’t think it was a planned mantra, but many workshop leaders said something to that effect. They were urging participants to capitalize on all the systems that have had to pause or completely re-vision to build our communities stronger. We can’t go “back to normal.” Too many of us were suffering with the way things were. 

In 2009, retired United Methodist Bishop Reuben Job wrote a tiny book that was hard bound in a plain brown cover, just about the right size to fit in a breast pocket. It was titled, “Three Simple Rules: A Wesleyan Way of Living.” It quickly became a bestseller, and I’m sure demand surges around graduation time every year. In the book, Job lays out three simple rules for a Christian life, as initially preached by John Wesley: (1) Do no harm; (2) Do good; (3) Stay in love with God. 

That’s it. 

There’s nothing in those rules about worshiping in a certain place or a certain way. Nothing about how to chair a mission team or lead a church council meeting. We box ourselves in by thinking the rest is very necessary, when really we have a wide latitude and great freedom to decide how we will live according to those three rules. 

I think Jesus innately understood this. Yes, the sabbath is a commandment, but no sabbath could ever be more valuable than a human life. Moreover, no commandment tells us how to keep the sabbath. We have a lot of freedom to decide what that might mean. Maybe one type of sabbath is relieving another human of their burdens so that they may have a rest.

The last year has changed so much. I pray our communities can take the time to reflect on what kind of life we might want to have in this sacred moment of rebuilding. I hope it will be a community where we do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.
Prayer
Shake us loose from the things that bind us, Gracious God. Free us to envision communities where everyone can thrive. Open our eyes to places where we can avoid doing harm, amplify good, and stay in love with you, God. Amen.
Amy Jones
Amy Jones, Agape Coordinator
Amy Jones our Agape Coordinator is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church. In this tradition, deacons are ordained clergy who bridge the ministry of the church with the needs of the world, and vice versa. In more than 15 years of ministry, she has worked in churches, in children and family ministry, higher education, and nonprofits. In each setting, her focus has been on matching the resources of the church with the needs of the world. Agape Community Kitchen is exactly the type of work she was called to do. 

Amy can be reached by email at: agape@westfieldpc.org.
The Presbyterian Church in Westfield continues to burn as a light in the darkness as our community weathers this fearsome storm of illness. Our reach of care continues to extend far beyond our immediate borders. You can help us make a real impact in the lives of others by joining in our work through your time, your talents, and also in the fruits of your labors.
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