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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, December 28, 2019  

Today’s Scripture Reading | Colossians 1:11–19

May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. (NRSV)

On the recent Civil Rights Movement Trip sponsored by Fourth Church, participants had a life-changing experience. We were immersed in parts of the ugliest history of our nation’s original sin of systemic racism—slavery, lynchings, condemnations of innocent people to deathr, mass incarceration. We were stirred by the words and stories of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and Medgar Evers. We were inspired by meeting Hezekiah, who had been a Freedom Rider and was imprisoned more than one hundred times, and Sam, who had marched from Selma to Montgomery for the right to vote. Many experienced loss of jobs, bombings of their homes and churches, physical injury, and even death fighting for racial justice. I felt pressed into deeper service by their convictions, hope, courage, and resilience.

What also struck me was how significantly the church and people’s faith in God fueled the movement. Our guide at the Freedom Ride Museum told us that in the face of terrible risk, the morale of people was kept high by holding mass meetings regularly in churches in the evenings. Preaching, singing, and praying moved them to draw on the strength that comes only from God. And on the buses, the Freedom Riders would sing a lot of spirituals, such as the one our guide led us to sing together: “I woke up this morning with my mind, stayed on Jesus . . .”

We again live in a time that calls for courageous witness to God’s truth. My prayer for you and me is similar to Paul’s for the Colossians, which we echo here.

God, make us strong with all the strength that comes from your glorious power. Prepare us to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to you, who has enabled us to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. Amen.

Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission

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