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April 1 - 20, 2024 - Great Fifty Days of Kindness - The Season of Easter 2024

I recently heard some statistics that indicated that the number one longing of the people surveyed was for a return to kindness. It seems that unkindness, whether personal or in public life, is a key indicator for depression in young people. I expect that is true for all people. The scriptures list kindness as a fruit of the Spirit and as an attribute of disciples. Loving Kindness is often given as a defining attribute of God. As those created in God’s image and called upon to mirror that image in all that we do, this season of Easter, arguably the season in which we celebrate God’s greatest kindness to us in the certain hope of eternal life that Jesus’ resurrection proclaims, we will focus on the many aspects of kindness. For roughly the first half of the season we will consider the kindness of God and how we can mirror that kindness in our own lives. The second half of the season we will look at kindness as a fruit of the Spirit and how we are urged to show kindness to those we love, strangers and even enemies. Each day I will offer a small act of kindness that you might consider in order to ground your kindness in a practical action. Scientists tell us that it takes on average 66 days for a new habit to become automatic, so these fifty days, hopefully, will just be a start of a new lifelong habit of kindness!

April 1 – God’s Kind Gift of Life – Genesis 1:20;24;26  And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let the birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.”…And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.”…Then God said, “Let us make humans in our image, according to our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over the cattle and over all the wild animals of the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

The ancestors of our faith considered God’ greatest kindness to be the gift life itself. Each breath is a continuing act of God’s kindness. The word often translated as kindness, or loving kindness, in the Old Testament, is chesed. It means to commit to someone or to display devotion without conditions. It is sometimes translated as loyalty, mercy or steadfast love. When we think about the gift of life itself as an act of God’s steadfast loving kindness, that can change the lens through which we view our ordinary lives and what it means for us to steward (have dominion) over the whole created order with all its wild and wooly life forms. Today pause and consider the gift of this moment. Notice the gift of this breath and the next. Notice the wild diversity of life all around you, the birds at the feeder, sound of water running in the bathroom as a family member brushes their teeth, the gentle steady thump of your heartbeat. Each of those simple things is an expression of God’s loving kindness for you specifically and for the cosmos in general. Today’s act of kindness is to stop for a moment throughout the day and notice all of the life around you and within you. Tilt your head slightly to the sun and thank God for God’s loving kindness that never ends.

Prayer: Gracious God of all of Life, thank you for your never failing kindness to all whom you have created. Awaken me today to the bounty of your kindness and fill me with greater gratitude. In Jesus’ holy name I pray. Amen.

April 2 – God’s Kind Gift of Companionship – Genesis 2:23aThen the man said, “This at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh;”

In the second creation story in Genesis, chapter 2, God spoke the entire dazzle of creation into being in one wild loving frenzy. Finally, God created a human being and put that one in a garden of delight (Eden.) It did not take long for God to see that the earth creature (Adam) was lonely. All of the bounty of creation, and even God’s own loving intimate presence, was not enough to ease the loneliness. God saw that it was not good for the human being to be alone and so created a companion that shared the earth creature’s own nature and being. So overcome with gratitude for a corresponding companion, the earth creature, now call man, says the first words spoken by a human in the bible. “This at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” There is nothing quite like the wonder of sharing life with companions that are worthy of our friendship and devotion. The action of creating the woman in this story is one of ultimate kindness. God had originally intended to be companion enough, but the loneliness of the earth creature touched God so deeply that God created a companion to ease the human’s loneliness. How unspeakably kind! Today’s act of kindness is to think about the companions in your life and the joy, laughter and comfort each brings. Even if they are far away, or no longer a daily part of your life, take a moment today to send a note of appreciation to each thanking them for the ways they have made your life full and accompanied you through thick and thin.

Prayer: Gracious God of all of Life, I thank you today for the kindness you have shown me in bringing companions into my life to help me, stretch me, and fill my life with joy. I lift before you today especially……. My heart is full of gratitude for your kindness. In Jesus’ holy name I pray. Amen.

April 3 – God’s Loving Kindness – Micah 6:8 & Hosea 6:6 He has told you, O mortal, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God...For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

Today we look again at the notion of God’s loving kindness in the Hebrew Scriptures (chesed.) The word chesed conveys God’s unconditional devotion toward us. That is the word translated in today’s verses as ‘love kindness’ and ‘steadfast love.’ I like to translate the word as ‘unshakeoffableness.’ I always imagine my dog Bonnie when I think of chesed. When she first came to us, before we put up a fence, she loved to run to the ditch in front of our yard and explore. Since we live so close to the coast, the ditch is often full of a combination of rain and salt water and home to all manner of crabs and frogs. After she splashed in the sandy brackish water, she would run up on the front porch and try to shake all the water and sand off from nose to tail. But no matter how many times she shook she was still wet and sandy when she came back into the house. What the scripture tells us is that God’s love and kindness cling to us like that. We can shake. We can run. But we cannot outrun that loving kindness. Today, if it is sunny and you can go outside, stop and notice your shadow. Then see if you can outrun it? Try again. God’s loving kindness is like that. I hope as you try this silly exercise you will find yourself smiling or laughing at the foolish ways you sometimes try to outrun God’s love and kindness. Take a moment to thank God for outsmarting you every time. Today’s kindness practice: Think of ways that you can mirror that kind of dogged devotion to others today. Do one thing that you might not ordinarily take time to do knowing that you are passing on God’s kindness to others.

Prayer: Great God of Loving Kindness, I thank you today that you always out run me, that you refuse to ever desert me. Help me today to turn and embrace you if I feel the urge to flee from your presence or your ways. Thank you for the kindness of your devotion to me. In Jesus’ holy name I pray. Amen.

April 4 – God’s Kind Deliverance – Exodus 14:21-22Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.

There are so many stories of God’s deliverance in scripture that it is hard to choose one upon which to focus. In the Old Testament perhaps none is more dramatic that God’s delivering of the enslaved Hebrew people from bondage in Egypt. This experience we call The Exodus, which the book of Exodus details. One of the things I love about the Exodus story and references to it, is that the words used to talk about Egypt come to mean both Egypt the place of bondage, and Egypt as the condition of bondage. As we will see in tomorrow’s introduction to the Ten Commandments, of all of the many words God could use to self-identify, God says, I am the one who brings you out of bondage. For Christians, we see the ultimate act of freeing from bondage in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. God delivers because it is who God is. God frees because it is who God is. Perhaps our bondage is not as obvious as slavery and making bricks without straw, but it can feel just as powerful and we can feel just as powerless. So today see if you can identify any bondage in your life. Perhaps you are helpless at work. Perhaps you think others understand lessons in school better than you do. Perhaps your family situation is dire and you can’t fix it. Perhaps your health is keeping you in bondage. Or your habits. Whatever it is, take a moment to bring that situation into the light of God in prayer knowing that deliverance is who God is. Thank God not only for deliverance in the past but for all that lies ahead of you as well. Deliverance is God’s kindness in action. Are there ways today that you can kindly support others in their journey of deliverance?

Prayer: O God my Deliverer, I thank you today for the many ways you have moved me through and out of my troubles all my life. I thank you that your loving kindness insists on my freedom and release. Help me today to live in the light of your freedom, grateful for your kindness. In Jesus’ holy name I pray. Amen.

April 5 – God’s Kind Gift of Boundaries – Exodus 20:1-20 – Please read these verses in your own Bible.

Sometimes freedom is not all it is cracked up to be. Especially if we have accustomed ourselves to bondage and it feels normal. After the people of Israel were freed from their bondage in Egypt, they spent forty years trying to find their way to true freedom in the promised land. There were many fits and starts on that journey. There were many times that they were confused and just wanted to go backwards. Moses was at his wits end with the people when he climbed the holy mountain to ask God for some concrete and specific help. The help God offered was an amazing love letter in which God outlined God’s deepest values and gave a picture of the pitfalls that can derail life and keep fulfillment, and even faithfulness, at bay. This letter/picture we call the Ten Commandments. One of the blessings of that letter written on tablets of stone, is that it offers us the gift of boundaries within which we can live, find meaning and show our love for God and neighbor. These boundaries are not so much fences as they are borders that separate joy from despair, the kingdom of God from the wasteland of selfishness. What a kindness to be given a picture of what spiritual life and community life can look like and what we can do to destroy it all! Take a moment today as you read the passage to see if you are drawn to any one particular boundary. You may be drawn to it because it feels too marvelous, for example to lay down your other gods/rulers, or it may be because you struggle to incorporate the particular command into your life. Sit with this command for a moment. Let it’s kindness unfold deeply inside you. Ask God how you can deepen in these ways. Ask for help. Throughout the day, look for ways that you can love God and respect others. Take one or two actions that are concrete and specific and thank God for the kindness of good boundaries.

Prayer: Gracious Deliverer, I think you for showing me the path to joy. Help me to follow in your ways with a grateful heart. Where I stumble, please pick me up and forgive me. Thank you for the kindness of giving me a path forward. In Jesus’ holy name I pray. Amen.

April 6 – God’s Kind Gift of Rest – Exodus 20:8Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.

Today we return to the Ten Commandments and focus on the fourth. The first three concern our personal relationship with God (God is our one, our only, and we are not to trivialize that relationship.) With the fourth, God combines the personal and the communal for the first time with the command to keep Sabbath holy. This is a VAST commandment and cannot be addressed in fullness in these few lines. For today, I invite you to focus on the invitation to rest in this commandment. Many of us may be pretty good at Sabbath worship but are almost strangers to rest. We are constantly working on something. Or if not working, then we are fretting or planning or numbing out. None of that is rest. One of the beauties of the Old Testament stories is that time itself is organized by rest. The week begins with Sabbath rest. All of the days are oriented toward it. It is one day after Sabbath or three days until Sabbath. The days begin at Sunset not sunrise, reminding us that it is the gift of stopping and resting that begins any other activity. A priority on rest is baked into creation itself and is necessary for any of the work we do, (especially the works of kindness and justice that follow this command.) Today think a bit about how you actually rest, not how you entertain yourself when not working. What does real rest feel like? Do you know? What supports rest for you? Can you say no to important things to make rest a priority? If this is a struggle, ask God for help to discern what is really restful and to create space for you to rest. Thank God for the great kindness of making rest a priority.

Prayer: God of Sabbath rest, help me today to find moments of rest. Help me to offer moments of rest to others and in so doing to spread the kindness of sabbath everywhere I go. In Jesus’ holy name I pray. Amen.

April 7 – Jesus’ Kind Welcome – Luke 9:46-48 An argument arose among them concerning which one of them was the greatest. But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side and said to them, “Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me, for the least among all of you is the greatest.” 

This radical passage tells us more than meets the eye at first. Yes, Jesus often displayed kindness to children. I remember growing up coloring pictures of a smiling Jesus surrounded by and hugging smiling children. I love those pictures. I love the display of loving kindness in those pictures. Here, however, Jesus is going beyond that kind of kindness. In a way, the child is an object lesson Jesus uses to make his point about welcome, about who is in and who is out, who is worthy and who is not. In the ancient world children, while obviously loved, had few rights. They were powerless. They could not own property. They had no wealth of their own. They were dependent of the kindness and generosity of families and the community. In this passage the disciples are jockeying for power and prestige. They want to be at the top of the totem pole with all of its privileges. Jesus has a different totem pole. For him the way to greatness was the way of welcome, especially of the poor, the powerless and those who can make no real contribution. The startling thing about this passage is that Jesus sees greatness as kind welcome extended to those who are the least, not those who have and want the most. This theme occurs again and again in the New Testament. How do we show that kind of welcome in our churches and lives? Do we get as excited when a homeless person, or a poor widow comes to our church as we do when the mayor or an award winner arrives? Is our welcome equally filled with kindness? The word most often translated as kindness in the New Testament refers not just to being sweet and not hurting people’s feelings when we think they have it coming. It is more substantial than that. It means to be gracious, to find goodness easy, to display integrity, to be drawn to excellence in personal behavior, and to be quick to support excellence in others. At its heart New Testament kindness is compassionate  and useful. To live out of kindness is to be benevolently serviceable. Take a moment today to consider whether you welcome others with this kind of kindness. If not, why do you find this hard? Decide today on one act of welcoming kindness that you can show to someone who can give you nothing in return. If you are sure that you will not be using that person for gain in any way, including emotional gain, take a small action of kind welcome toward them.

Prayer: Great God of Welcome, help me to kindly welcome those who can do nothing for me today, just because it is how you always welcome me. In Jesus’ Holy name I pray. Amen.

April 8 – The Kindness of Purpose – Mark 1:16-17As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea, for they were fishers. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of people.

Years ago, I read the book Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor. In his book he writes of his experiences in the German concentration camps in which, over time, all of his family members were killed or died of disease. In a poignant section he talks about the despair of the camps and how base daily concerns were. At one point he realized that the only way to survive each day was to be himself, an observer of the human mind and condition. He set out to try to discern why some people died quickly upon arrival and others, against all odds, found a way to survive. His conclusion was that those that survived believed that there was something meaningful yet for them to do. I cannot help but think of that story as I read the stories of Jesus calling his first disciples. They lived in difficult times and circumstances and yet when this unknown rabbi Jesus approached them, they realized the transforming power of having something meaningful to do. No matter our own circumstances, we each have that same call and opportunity. They is something meaningful for us to do with each and every day of our lives. It may not be a big thing, but it is a crucial thing. The call to live our own lives and to embody our faith daily is purpose enough. What a kindness it is to be given a reason for living, a purpose that we can in our small ways fulfill. It is indeed what makes the difference between despair and bountiful life. Today think for a few moments about your purpose. Is there something meaningful for you to do today? It doesn’t have to be big. I just needs to be full of loving kindness. Make a commitment today to look for opportunities to express your purpose and see what God brings to your mind.

Prayer: God of the Big Picture, help us to see our purpose in your plan. We thank you for the kindness of having a role to play in the way you show you loving kindness to the world. In Jesus’ holy name I pray. Amen.

April 9 – The Kindness of Calling from our Hiding Places – Luke 19:1-10 When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”


We saw yesterday that one of God’s gifts of kindness is a purpose for our lives. Sometimes we fail to grab on to that purpose because we are afraid of failure or rejection. We, like Zacchaeus, may be curious about what Jesus is up to and whether he could make a meaningful change in our lives, but we are conditioned by both years of rejection and the shame we carry for flawed choices we have made, and so we would rather climb a tree and hide from the consequences of our choices or from the change healing often demands. Zacchaeus was a tax collector. In Jesus day tax collectors were considered Roman collaborators who often gained wealth by politically sanctioned extortion. On top of that he was a small man, which in the beautiful symbolic language of scripture describes both his stature and the confines of his heart. Like many of us, maybe he hoped for the benefit Jesus offered without having to change his habits or priorities. He didn’t get away with that and neither can we. Jesus spotted him, as he was, hiding in a tree, and told him in no uncertain terms that he, Jesus, would be heading home with Zacchaeus that very night. We cannot hid from intimacy with Christ, at least not for long. The kindness of Jesus here is startling. Nothing Zacchaeus was or had done was a barrier to Jesus desire to share life with him, to heal him and restore him to the fullness of life. Jesus still calls each of us from our hiding places. They are of no importance to him, and are no impediment. Jesus sees straight through the metaphorical leaves that we weave into garments to hide behind. He sees who we are and who we can yet become if we come out from our hiding. Today think for a moment about the habits, practices, or sin that you cling to and the ways that you try to hide from light and love. Is there anything in particular that you fear being known? Jesus already knows and you need have no fear. He wants to sit down at table with you and talk it over. Today, if possible, step outside your home for a moment. Then turn to reenter asking Jesus to be your honored guest. Thank him for the kindness of seeing the real you.

Prayer: Great God of X-ray Vision, I thank you for seeking me out when I try to hide from you. Thank you for cutting through my fear, habit and sin and seeing straight into my longing heart. In gratitude for this kindness, I invite you more deeply into the home of my heart. In Jesus’ holy name I pray. Amen.

April 10 – The Kindness of Walking with us in Grief – Luke 24:17 And he (Jesus) said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?”

Today’s verse comes from a long and lush passage in Luke that follows the upheaval of Jesus’ crucifixion and reported resurrection. Two disciples who had come to Jerusalem from Emmaus to celebrate Passover are walking home after the painful and confusing events of the weekend. They are bereft. Their hearts are broken. They thought that Jesus would be the one to change everything and yet Rome executed him and they feel like all hope is lost. Add to that that some of their friends have reported that his tomb is empty and they have seen him in the flesh, and they do not know what to think. All they know is that they are hurting. Their friend and rabbi was executed. Other friends seem to have lost their minds. Now the hopes they had clung to so dearly seem completely lost and all they can do is put one foot in front of the other and try to talk it through together. In that moment when grief and confusion have overwhelmed them, Jesus sidles up next to them on the journey and asks them what they are talking about. There are wonderful revelations in this passage that we could spend a month pondering, like why they don’t recognize him, how he explains scripture to them, and how they finally do recognize him in the breaking of the bread. But for today, I invite you to think about the tender kindness of Jesus coming to them in their grief and confusion and walking along with them. Most of us have known times of grief and confusion when we did not know what to do or how to get by from moment to moment. Like with the disciples on that long ago road to Emmaus, Jesus still comes close to us and gently helps us process and come to greater understanding. He walks it all out with us. Maybe, like with the ancestors, we don’t know it is him until we look back and see how we have changed, but still. He comes. He accompanies. He enlightens and he lightens the load of grief and confusion. Today take a moment to remember a time when you were hurting badly. Could you experience Jesus with you in that time? Was it only later that you saw how sustained and guided you were? Did Jesus use a person to help you and stay by your side? One of the greatest ways that we can mirror God’s kindness is by sticking with and listening to those in grief or confusion. Is there someone you can accompany in that way today?

Prayer: God of Consolation and Light, I thank you for walking with me in hard times, when I recognized you and when I did not. Help me today to notice those you want to accompany through me. Give me insight, patience and desire to walk the road with those in pain. In Jesus’ holy name I pray. Amen.

April 11 – The Kindness of an Open Mind – Matthew 15:28Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that moment.

Some people find today’s story unsettling. Jesus has gone to the district of Tyre and Sidon when a local Canaanite woman came up to him to ask for help for her sick daughter. For much of biblical history, the Canaanites were considered an idolatrous and sinful people. They were understood to be cursed due to ancestral sin and faithful Israelites would have nothing to do with them. In this story, the woman comes to Jesus for help and both he and his disciples try to get rid of her. They are harsh and dismissive. But she is strong and her love for her daughter, together with her quick wits, refuse to leave or let them off the hook. This and its parallel stories are the only instances in the Gospels in which Jesus is bested in a debate and changes his mind as a result. Hence the discomfort of many with this story. I, however, love it. I don’t love it just because it is a beautiful picture of an outcast woman fighting for her daughter’s life. I don’t love it just because she is smart and brave. I don’t even just love it because Jesus extols her faith in such strong terms that only an exclamation point in the text can indicate the passion of it. No, not just those reasons. I love this passage because it shows the incredible power and kindness of having an open mind, even if it has to be opened for us by those who are marginalized or whom we do not like or want to be around. Such is the greatness of the humanity of Jesus that he demonstrates for us how faith is not contained in our systems or creeds but comes in many ways in many peoples. When we open our hearts and minds we, like Jesus, may sometimes be surprised at the depth of faith in those we would dismiss. Can you think of people or groups that you secretly disdain, think are not worth bothering with, are just not a priority for you? Have you ever had the experience of having your mind opened by new insights or experiences? How has the kindness of an open mind changed you and your relationships? Have you ever seen powerful faith demonstrated by those you think of as sinful or not faithful? Take a moment to close your eyes and open your heart to receive the gifts these people offer to you. Ask yourself how you can show the kindness of an open mind today. Decide on one action or context and give it a try.

Prayer: O Great God Whose Arms Are Wider Than We Know, thank you for the gift of an open mind. When my mind is closed to others and to love, I ask you to help me model the kindness of Jesus and change my mind. In Jesus’ holy name I pray. Amen.

April 12 – The Kindness of Healing our Isolation – Luke 17:12-14As he entered a village, ten men with a skin disease approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were made clean.

In Jesus’ day skin diseases were both painful and feared. Sufferers were considered cursed by God and forced to leave their homes and communities to live on the outskirts of town dependent on charity to survive. When skin diseases erupted people went to the priests for a judgment. If they were declared unclean, not only were they banished from towns and villages, they were banned from worship and the means of grace of the sacrificial system. In essence they were condemned to a life of shame and isolation. In this healing story, not only does Jesus relieve their physical torment, he restores them to the community of faith. They can worship again. They are no longer isolated. During the height of the pandemic, many of us experienced fear and isolation as we never had before. I cannot help but think of dying patients with nurses in hazmat suits standing next to their beds holding cell phones while family members said their goodbyes from afar. What a toll that isolation took! In today’s verses we see that Jesus’ first priority in extending mercy was to restore people to community, especially the community of faith. The pandemic taught us that community is essential and that it can happen in many ways, in zoom squares, in safe spaces, in on line book groups, in YouTube worship. However community happens, even if not in person for the common good, it is essential to life and healing. Jesus’ act of healing mercy is restoration to community. Are there those in your life who still experience isolation since the pandemic? Are there those who experienced isolation long before that and now long after? What does isolation look like in our day? Who do we push to the margins of community so we don’t have to see them and deal with their needs? Who do we push to the margins because we are afraid of them? Can you think of a way today that you could reach out to ease the isolation of someone in specific? Do it! That is God’s loving kindness working through you to heal in ways you may never see.

Prayer: God of Grace, I thank you for your mercy (loving kindness) in healing my isolation and drawing me into deeply awakened community. If I can be your vehicle for kindness today, help me to become aware of that calling and to step out to answer. In Jesus’ holy name I pray. Amen.

April 13 – The Kindness of Lament – Matthew 23:37- “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you, desolate.”

Jesus is approaching Jerusalem for the last time. Whether he knows that for sure or not, he surely senses the danger. The people are divided. Some seem to have heard his message but their faith has not had time to deepen. Many have found him to be a dangerous heretic and in rejecting him have rejected the transformation God intended in sending him. Now as he prepares to enter the city he looks upon it and is overwhelmed with grief and sadness that the people have chosen their own way rather than the reforms he offered. And so he cries out in lament likening himself to a mother hen who wants to protect her brood from all danger. He sees the cities desolation, and no doubt where their choices will lead. Before he goes on to fulfill his role in the drama, he pauses to cry out in lament. Lament is a passionate expression of grief and sorrow. There is steadfast loving kindness at the heart of this kind of lament. When we see clearly the consequences of behaviors we are helpless to change, it naturally leads to lament. Perhaps it is the very love and helplessness of lament that makes it so powerful. It strips away the illusion of control. It strips away the illusion of separateness. As in Jesus’ powerful metaphor, the hen and the chicks are one. They face what is coming together, the more wise doing what she can to protect the most vulnerable. In our grief process, lament can have a powerful cathartic effect. I remember going to tell a mom that her teenage son had been killed from an overdose. As I held her, she cried out with the most powerful wail I have ever heard. It was an eternal sound. An ethereal sound. There was a sense in that moment that a solidarity with God was somehow established. Hen and chick were one, wailing together. The kindness of lament lies in the solidarity of it. When we lament, we share the life of Christ and some mysterious how, there is kindness in it. Is there anything in your life that you have refused to lament? If so, maybe today is the day to do that wailing. As you do, know that Jesus weeps with you. If the truth of your lament is too deep or scary to face alone, ask a friend or pastor to be with you, not to buffer or fix, but to witness and protect. The witnessing of lament is powerful kindness too.

Prayer: God of Every Moment, I thank you that you both witness and lament the messes your children make of our lives. Help me today to feel your embrace as I release any sorrow and powerlessness to you. In Jesus’ holy name I pray. Amen.

April 14 – The Kindness of Holy Presence – Exodus 19:16-18On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled. Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God. They took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now all of Mt. Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended upon it in fire; the smoke went up like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently.

In their decades long wilderness journey, the people have reach the holy mountain of Sinai. They have recommitted themselves to God and that recommitment has led to new and deeper encounter with the divine presence that will, after just a few verses more, culminate with the gift of the Law in the Ten Commandments. Encounters with God always defy language. Often in the Hebrew scriptures symbols of smoke and fire are how the writers speak of being in the presence of God. Earlier in the book of Exodus we are told that a pillar of fire leads the people by night and a pillar of cloud leads them during the day. Sometimes we too struggle to describe the experience of God’s holy presence in our own lives. We may talk about a shimmering light, or the feeling of an embrace, or the goose-bumpy feeling that sometimes overtakes us in worship. We may talk about the power and majesty of nature and the feeling of connection with all things that comes as we stand in awe at creations beauty and intricacy. Whenever we experience a sense of God’s presence that takes us, even for a moment, out of the mundane reality of our ordinary lives into something we cannot define and know we cannot control, we are on holy ground. This sense of presence with us is a transformative experience of God’s loving kindness. Without those moments, no matter how fleeting, it would be hard for us to rise above our circumstances and daily concerns. When lightning flashes, or fog envelops, we are caught up into a presence without which life can feel unendurable and meaning hard to find. Today, take a moment to stop what you are doing and breathe in the kind presence of God. Perhaps light a candle and feel its warmth, or step outside and look up at the vast sky, knowing that you are surrounded with God’s kind presence at every moment and that God wants nothing more than to share life and beauty with you.

Prayer: Gracious God, I thank you today for your holy presence with me, within me and all around me. Awaken me to this kindness today so that I may help others see you too. In Jesus’ holy name I pray. Amen.

April 15 – The Kindness of Creative Energy – Genesis 1:1 When God began to create the heavens and the earth, the earth was complete chaos, and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.”

Whether you read the creation stories in Genesis and understand a day to be a twenty four hour period or indeterminate millennia, the truth is the same. God’s creative energy set all things in motion and continues to bring all that is into being. It is touching in this first verse of the Bible that the impetus for creation was the reigning in of chaos and the need for enlightenment. In this beautiful verse the Spirit of God (wind) is hovering over the darkness looking for a way to deploy God’s own creative energy to bring order and insight. It is my belief that God’s creative energy was not confined to the distant past. Spirit continues to hover over the darkness and chaos of our lives offering divine energy and insight to roll back the darkness and to bring order and beauty out of chaos. Are there aspects of your life, personal or communal, that feel chaotic? Do you feel the need of insight and order in specific ways? Are you open to the surprising sorting power of divine energy and presence? If so, today may be a creation day for you. We learn from the text that creation, even of new being or understanding, takes time. It is rarely instant but it is always good. Take a moment now to open to the kindness of God’s creative energy available to you just as it was in the beginning of the beginning. Ask God to give you light so that you can participate in the sorting and ordering of all that is chaotic in your life and world. As you ask for this help, listen within for God’s whisper, “This is good.” God’s steadfast loving kindness is enough for you even if you are tired or feel depleted.

Prayer: Creator God, create in me a new heart filled with love and insight. Sort by your divine energy, the chaos and darkness that feel overwhelming to me so that I can live in peace and share your kindness with others. In Jesus’ holy name I pray. Amen.

April 16 – The Kindness of a Holy Advocate – John 14:16 “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.”

At this point in John’s gospel, Jesus and his closest friends are gathered for their last sacred meal together. Jesus seems to know this but the disciples are still, for the most part, clueless. Jesus has just shocked them senseless by taking on the role of a slave and washing their feet. He has told them, in their shock and vulnerability, that one of them will betray him, and given them to new commandment to love one another. Now he tries to prepare them for what he knows is coming. They are to be parted from each other. In giving this hard news he tells them that when that happens, he will ask the Father to give them another Advocate. The word Advocate, which Jesus associated with the Spirit of Truth, is a word from the field of law. It is something like a defense attorney. The Advocate will stand, speak for, and plead the case of those to whom the Advocate is assigned. It must have been comforting indeed to those disciples as they sat in shock and helplessly watched all that they had longed for crumble around their feet. Sometimes we too feel the need for an Advocate to sort out the details of life and make our defense. The little word ‘another’ gives us a wonderful clue about this Advocate. It indicates that the one who comes to our aid after Jesus departs will continue the work that Jesus has been doing as well. Are there areas of your life where you feel the need for a powerful Advocate who can plead your case persuasively? Are their areas of your life where you need an Advocate to stand with you and tell the truth to you, or to others? If so, invite the Advocate who is the Spirit of Truth, to come along side you today. Perhaps the ones who need the truth of this Advocate are not outside you. Maybe you also need to listen to the Spirit of Truth making its case within you. In either circumstance, know that in God’s loving kindness you have the Advocate you need. Are there ways you might advocate for the truth on behalf of others today? That is a powerful mirroring of God’s loving kindness!

Prayer: God of Spirit and Truth, I thank you that I am not left alone to defend myself or convince the world. I thank you that you are with me at all times advocating for that which is good and true. Help me today to reflect your kindness and your truth. In Jesus’ holy name I pray. Amen.

April 17 – The Kindness of a Memory Aid – John 14:25“I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have said to you.”

Still in the upper room with his friends, Jesus has washed their feet, predicted their betrayal, given them the commandment to love one another and promised them the gift of the Holy Spirit. In this verse he offers them additional insight into what the Holy Spirit of Truth will do for them. He tells them that the Spirit will help them remember all that he has taught them. In Greek this is a very strong statement. It might be translated that the Spirit will cause them to remember. He is not saying that the Spirit will necessarily help you to remember where you left your keys or the date of that dentist appointment that you have been putting off. He says that the Spirit will cause us to remember what he, Jesus, himself has said and taught. What a kindness! Have you ever had a moment when a bible verse or concept has come to your mind just when you needed it? Even if you do not know the scriptures well, have you ever felt nudged in a particular direction to do something that you know is right but don’t quite know how? Have you ever found a snippet from an old hymn or saying coming to your mind and, as you pause to consider it, find that it offers you an insight or assurance that you need? If so that is the kindness of the Spirit helping you to remember just what you need to at any given moment. Ask God today to help you become more aware of this Holy Spirit kindness today and see if you notice it more.

Prayer: Great God, I thank you today for the promise of your Spirit and especially for the kindness of helping me to remember your teaching and your ways in Christ Jesus. Help me to stay awake to your work in me and in your world. In Jesus’ holy name I pray. Amen.

April 18 – The Kindness of Truth – John 14:6aJesus said to him, I am the way, the truth and the life.”


 Backing up a few verses in John chapter 14, we find this extraordinarily rich statement made by Jesus as he approaches what he senses will be the end of his life on earth. The word ‘way’ refers to a pathway that encompasses an entire way of life. The early Christians, before the word Christian came into common usage, called themselves People of the Way. They realized that to be Jesus’ disciple meant entering into a way of life that mirrored Jesus’ own way. The word ‘truth’ used here, alethia, refers not simply to truth as opposed to lies. It is not just facts as opposed to falsity. This word refers to deep and winsome moral truth, ultimate truth, the truth that is at the very heart of all reality. We live in a time that some call ‘post truth culture.’ One of the things that has eroded our trust and obscured our path these days is that we can’t always tell truth from fiction, moral reality from cultural propaganda. The inability to find ‘the way’ because ‘the truth’ has been obscured by repeated fantasy. That is devastating to individuals and to communities. Perhaps even two millennia ago, Jesus understood how hard life could be when alethia was made merely relative. The great kindness of today’s declaration is that even when we live in a world that is torn apart by contrasting visions or declarations of the truth, we have the REAL truth as out guide. What is that REAL truth? It is Jesus himself, his life, actions and teachings. If you become confused sometimes about what is true, take a moment to return to the life of Jesus. What you see in him is what is really true, not just about him, but about all of us as we live in him. How kind of him on the eve of his betrayal to remind us again that if we want to know what is true we are to look at him, not what people say of him, but him! That is how we find our way.

Prayer: God of Truth, we thank you for the great kindness of sending us Jesus to show us what real truth looks like and does. Help us today to cut through the noise of the competing narratives of our time and find the peace of your truth. In Jesus’ holy name I pray. Amen.

April 19 – The Kindness of Oneness – John 17:20-21“I ask not only on behalf of these but also on behalf of those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

After his teaching time in the upper room, Jesus moves into prayer. In this prayer, he pours out his heart and longings for all of us. In this section the text fairly bursts with passion. What is Jesus’ deepest passion? It is that we may all be one. That of course refers to our intimacy with God in Christ, but it also refers to our intimacy with one another. The answer to Jesus prayer does not mean that we should all agree on all points. It does not mean that there should be no differences among us or that our worship practices must all be the same. Oneness is not about uniformity. Rather, Oneness is the recognition of our common humanity with all of its glory and brokenness. It is the recognition that we are all children of the same parent and as bound together as Jesus is with the Father. We cannot be separated, even if we in our shortsightedness’ sometimes think that our differences are existential and not circumstantial. What Jesus longs for us is a oneness that recognizes that what happens to one of God’s children happens to all of God’s children. He longs for a oneness so deep that the category of enemy disappears entirely. He longs for a oneness among us so profound that we cannot be extricated from each other any more than Jesus could be pulled apart from the Father. It is this compassionate inescapable oneness that remains the calling of all who bear Christ’s name in all ages. The practice of the Christian faith is not, and cannot be, a merely private matter. We are part of one body and that is for our own good in so many ways. The kindness of oneness ushers us into the power and challenge of intimacy itself. When we are one, we stick with one another even when we would rather run. Even if our differences are so profound that we choose different paths for our own personal or moral survival, we remain one and tied to those near and far. Today take a moment to sit quietly. Let the vision come into your mind of all of the people that you know or have known, those you love and those you do not. Allow that parade of people to pass before your closed eyes and hear God say, “You are one.” Notice if any emotions arise in you. It may feel wonderful when you see your beloved family members or friends in that parade. But what does it feel like when you see opponents or people who have hurt you or for whom you have little respect? However it feels, join in God’s own statement as a prayer, saying “We are one.” The kindness of common humanity, the kindness of oneness, has a powerful healing effect. Even if it is hard. Give thanks.

Prayer: Gracious God, in Christ you make us one. We thank you for the kindness and challenge of that path. Help us today to move more deeply into a recognition of our oneness and release any hard feelings in us that get in the way of that truth. In Jesus’ holy name I pray. Amen.

April 20 – The Kindness of Holy Equity – Acts 2:4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

One of the things that is most startling and wondrous about the Pentecost story in the book of Acts is the Spirit’s gift of equity. We often focus on the doves and the fire in the story. That stands to reason. Peace and purifying power are things we all still need today. When we look at the miracle of the common language, however, sometimes we tend to think that this was a demonstration of the gift of speaking in tongues. As if all those present were given that gift at the same time and that is how they understood each other. That is not the case. The text tells us that each person spoke in his or her own language and was able to understand the languages others spoke. This is why this passage is sometimes seen as the reversal of the scattering of languages with the Tower of Babel in Genesis. What strikes me as of supreme importance is that the Holy Spirit’s first action, as a result of the dove of peace and the purifying fire, was an act of language justice. In this story no one language is dominant. All do not suddenly speak Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek. Each is on an equal footing. No one is subordinated to the powerful or the majority. All stand on their own equally blessed and filled. What a vision of kindness! Language is power. It is the power to describe one’s world, one’s needs, one’s experiences, one’s hopes and dreams. In this story we see that in the kingdom of God, power is shared. All stories are validated and valued. The people in this story come from many countries and languages. They may be believers, seekers, or interested bystanders who practice another religion or none. It didn’t matter. All were equally given the gift of Spirit’s presence and power.  What kindness! In our day when we seem to sort people into hierarchies of value based on language spoken or ethnic heritage, if we pause and listen to the Spirit whispers in our hearts we will hear every language and every people. And we will understand each other as equal and equally loved and valued.

Prayer: Great God of All, we thank you that your Holy Spirit equips us to understand and value each other. Help us to awaken to your mighty kindness in order to give us strength to continue to work for equity and justice in your world. In Jesus’ holy name we pray. Amen.