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Safe Harbor Devotions for Pentecost Week May 29 – June 3, 2023

May 29: Genesis 1:1-2 “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.” The word translated ‘wind’ here is ruach. The Bible begins with the ruach of God sweeping over watery chaos and deep nothingness. We can certainly feel that that describes our own lives and world sometimes. Everywhere we look people and the planet seem to be in chaos. Many of our friends and neighbors see no meaning in anything, not even their own lives. That lack of felt meaning is powerful fuel for anger, desperation and depression. Even those of us who believe that God is, and is with us and at work on our behalf, have moments when we need spiritual help to clear chaotic thinking or deepening sense of helplessness and discouragement. The mercy is that even when we feel like we are sinking, Spirit stands ready to do for us just what was done in the beginning: separate the teeming waters so that we can find sure footing. What are the areas of chaos, darkness or nothingness in your life, family or world where you long to feel the Spirit sweeping, sorting and bringing perfect light? How do you experience Spirit in those areas of your life? Take a moment today to stop and feel the wind on your face. Face into it, if you can, and welcome Spirit to sweep over your life.  Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, and fill this day with light, love and meaning. Help me to see you at work around me and give me a solid place to stand. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

May 30: Ezekiel 37:1 The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones.” Ezekiel’s world is collapsing. All around him he sees destruction and decay and he doesn’t see a way out. In this powerful vision, God’s Spirit assists him to face reality, to see the mess he and the people are in. Spirit shows him how dire the situation really is and that they can’t fix it on their own. For Spirit to move to heal, it is often necessary that we face the real unvarnished truth of our lives. That is hard and sometimes painful but it is the only way. Take a moment today to think about any situations that seem dire and hopeless to you right now. How did it come to this? Tell the Spirit the truth. Don’t be afraid to feel what you feel. Devastation never has the last word. If you find today that you feel helpless and hopeless, take a moment to stop and breathe the Spirit into those situations. Ask yourself, with hope in your heart, can these bones live? Then listen to the answers of assurance Spirit speaks to you.  Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, open me to what I need to recognize today. Fill me with the wonder of life. Help me to see clearly my part in my own problems and show me the path to your solutions. In Jesus’ holy name I pray. Amen.

May 31: Ezekiel 37:9-10 “Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into the,, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.” God commands Ezekiel to call on the power of the breath/Spirit (ruach) to repair the damage done. Ezekiel, unsure no doubt, obeys and Spirit comes and brings that which was dead to life again. Sometimes we too need Spirit’s power to be put back together again. Life has a way of breaking us apart and we can feel that we are scattered to the winds, without energy or the ability to rebuild what has been devastated. Even then Spirit is there, blowing, waiting for invitation and ready to restore. Are there areas of your life that feel old, dead and dried up? What about your family? Community? How have the accumulations of sin left devastation around you? Within you? Pause for a moment. Notice what comes to your mind. Write about it if you choose. Ask the Spirit to breathe new life into you and the situations that come to mind. Today, set you intention to notice life signs in places that you usually don’t expect to see them.  Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, restore me to wholeness. In Jesus’ holy name I pray. Amen.

June 1: Luke 2:35 “The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit” will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will over shadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called the Son of God.” What follows this declaration is Mary’s unequivocal yes. Let it be. Isn’t that amazing? How in the world could she say yes to such an outlandish proposition? Especially when to do so could cost her her marriage, her safety net and even her life. Still, it was with Mary’s yes that we began to learn that, by the Spirit, human beings can say yes to God’s outlandish offering and become those who offer Christ to the world, even in our own small ways. What would it be like for you to say yes, let it be, today? How might God want the Spirit to empower you to be a God-bearer in your home, church, workplace, community? What would you need Spirit to do for, and in you, in order for your witness to expand into a saving presence of love and freedom for those around you? Ask God to send you today just what you need. Try to notice those moments when you can bear Christ to others and bring saving love into their lives and give thanks for each opportunity.  Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, fill us with love and do with us what is perfect, for we belong to you. In Jesus’ holy name I pray. Amen.

June 2: John 20:22 “When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” In this resurrection appearance, Jesus breathes Spirit into his disciples and connects the work of the Spirit within them specifically to forgiveness. Spirit infused people forgive. If we don’t the consequences are dire. Forgiveness does not mean that we say that what happened didn’t matter, or even that if someone who has hurt us says they are sorry that makes it ok. If it had been ok, there would be no need for forgiveness. Forgiveness simply means that we choose not to allow what happened to rule us any longer. It means that we release the other from the obligation to somehow make right what cannot be made right. Just like God does for us. It doesn’t necessarily mean we forget. It just means that we stop giving away our energy and power. It means that we choose not to let the ones who have hurt us set the terms and times of our healing. Are there any persons that you know you need to forgive? Why is that hard? Write about this if you choose. Think about the consequences of not forgiving. Are you the one who loses the benefit, or are they? Ask Spirit to help you see where forgiveness is needed and to strengthen you to begin. Don’t be unforgiving of yourself if you can’t do it right now! Sometimes forgiveness takes many, many, breaths of the Spirit.  Prayer: Come Holy Spirit and set me free from hurts that linger. In Jesus’ holy name I pray. Amen.

June 3: Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” Paul is concerned about legalism killing people’s souls and faith. Here he reminds us that the Spirit in us is always about setting us free from all that is death dealing, things that diminish us and leave us feeling lost and shamed. Are there areas of your life right now where you feel bound in unhealthy ways? Are you sometimes overcome with trying to do everything and do it all with excellence? If you were to close your eyes and imagine true freedom for your life, what would that include? Write about that, if you choose. Now look at what you wrote. Is your dream consistent with what you know to be true about God and the values of God’s ways? If yes, then ask for Spirit’s aid to lead you into freedom. If you are not sure, ask Spirit to be your teacher and help you sort it all out. Today, try to notice moments when you feel truly and expansively free. Ask God to create a durable, free and open space in your heart for Spirit to tend, heal and inspire.  Prayer: Come Holy Spirit and create a free and open space in my heart! In Jesus’ Holy name I pray. Amen.This is my June Test