Monday Morning Devotional

Week of May 25, 2020


“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.”         --- 1 Corinthians 12:4-7


On Sunday evening, March 29, just hours before North Carolina’s Stay at Home Executive Order became effective, a small cross section of our community of faith gathered in Dover Chapel on the campus of Gardner-Webb University for a brief candlelight prayer vigil.  On that night, I shared these words:

“It is no secret that there is a thick darkness that has covered our campus, our communities, our state, our nation, and our world…Often, we find ourselves lost and afraid in the darkness.  But we come together this evening to remind one another - our campus, our community, and our world, that the God who said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light,’ is still more than able to speak light into the midst of our darkness.  I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about it or not, but light has one primary function – to dispel darkness.  And as we light our candles individually, and as we place candles in the windows of the Dover Chapel on the campus of Gardner-Webb University, we affirm our hope and faith in Jesus Christ.  And we declare the truth of John 1:5, that ‘the Light [of Christ] shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’”

Since that evening, candles have remained lit in the windows of Dover Chapel, facing Main Street, each and every night, as a beacon of hope until we had passed through the worst of the COVID-19 storm.  On Friday, May 22, with Governor Roy Cooper having lifted the Stay at Home Executive Order and with a move to a Modified Phase Two of reopening the economy, the candles were removed.  Still, we recognize the importance of remaining vigilant, pulling together, and doing the Three W's (wash your hands, wait six feet apart from each other, wear a face cloth covering).  In so doing, we are setting a good example as to what it means in a practical way to love our neighbor as God commands.

Today’s passage reminds us what it looks like to be the people of Pentecost – to be those in whom the Spirit of God resides.  Throughout the pandemic crisis we have seen (and continue to see) God’s grace manifested in the lives of others “for the common good.”  When the Apostle Paul speaks of spiritual gifts, it is important to note that the root of the word points to the nature of the gifts:  the gifts (“charismata”) are the result of God’s grace (“charis”).  Reflecting on this passage, Brian Peterson writes, “We are not talking about being “gifted” individuals who have the talents required to get ahead and earn a good salary or the admiration of others.  Paul wants the Corinthians to adopt a new way of looking at spirituality by seeing these abilities as a means through which God is at work with grace and mercy for the whole community” (workingpreacher.org, “Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13,” 5/31/20).

Prayer:  Lord, as we enter Phase Two, may your grace and power continue to reorient us away from our own interests so that our lives become vehicles for your love to be reflected in our families, our churches, our University, and the communities we are called to serve.