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Lectionary Year B Devotions

Keep Awake

1st Sunday in Advent, year B: Mark 13:24-37

We are in a time of waiting right now, and it unfortunately doesn’t have much to do with Advent, or the second coming of our Lord. It has to do with the pandemic. We are waiting to get a job back, or a new job to come. We are waiting for school to go back to normal. We are waiting to worship together indoors, without masks.

We are waiting.

But are we awake? Sometimes I feel like I’m just moving from one day to the next, not really being awake. I’m getting things done. Emails get sent. School work gets turned in. Meetings are attended. But I’m not sure I’m awake for all of it.

Mark’s gospel is the one synoptic Gospels, or gospels written from a similar point of view, but Mark skips the birth story, and focuses on the second coming of Jesus. Because the season of advent preparing for the birth of Jesus has already come, that was done long ago. Our season (or seasons) of advent are awaiting the coming of Christ again.

In Mark 13:37 the author says “And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.” What does keeping awake look like for you in this unprecedented season of Advent 2020? Perhaps it looks like focusing on your faith, through practices like reading scripture, prayer, or attending a Bible study. Perhaps it looks like taking care of yourself, making sure you are getting enough to eat and drink, and taking care of your health.

No matter how we keep awake this season, remember this. God promises to be with us. God came to be with us in the form of the baby Jesus so many years ago, walked with us, ministered with us, cried with us, died for us, and not even death kept him from us.

Therefore, God is with us in the waiting. Keep awake friends.

Fishing For People

3rd Sunday After Epiphany Mark 1:14-20

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people” -Mark 1:17

This week has been rough. My very dear friend passed away on Saturday after her battle with cancer. I met Lauren when I moved to Covington TN in 2013 for my placement at a church where I would serve as the youth minister while in seminary. Lauren was in the next town south of me and was so excited to have another female youth minister and seminarian that she showed up the very first day to help me move my furniture. From that point on we were together.

We got mistaken for sisters a lot, which was fun for us two only children. We shared a love of Mexican food, Chacos, coffee and youth ministry. The closest Starbucks was 25 minutes away from my house, and Lauren was conveniently on the way, so once, or twice, or many times a week I would pick her up and we would ride down to properly caffeinate ourselves before beginning our day. Even though both of us would “pre-game” (her term) with our own coffee at home.

We took joint mission trips with our youth groups, had combined youth group once a month, and generally shared a love of ministry together that was unparalleled. She would joke that we should go work for a church together where I could be in charge of games and lessons and she could do what she loved, be the master organizer of all things.

So what does this have to do with fishing for people? There was no better fisher in the world. Lauren reached into your soul and pulled you into her world, which was full of a deep love for Jesus. When she got her hook in you she didn’t let go, and you never wanted her to. My boys called her “aunt Lauren” as did many other kids in her sphere of influence.

She cast a wide net in her youth ministry, and her kids loved her fiercely. She caught sports stars, singers, instrumentalists, and kids who might have never felt at home anywhere, but they had a home with Lauren.

What I learned from Lauren would fill volumes, but for now, I’ll just say, go fishing. Catch people and tell them about the love of Jesus, maybe you go to church together, or maybe you just go out for tacos. Either way, be like Lauren, reel ’em in and never let go.

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Aunt Lauren and AJ at Build a Bear for his 11th birthday.

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