Devotional

Straining Forward by Pastor Teer

pastor teer hardy

“Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” – Philippians 3:13 (NRSV) 

 

The Apostle Paul has a lot of nerve. Paul did not live through 2020. He did not live through a global pandemic, a nation coming to terms with it’s past and current racial injustices, murder hornets, wildfires, school at home, toilet paper shortages, or NOAA running through all of their planned storm names. “Straining forward to what lies ahead,” really Paul? Really? 


A few weeks ago, at the outdoor worship service we watched, we participated in a service of Holy Baptism. Harper’s parents made vows and so did the congregation that was present. We will do the same this coming Sunday. 

 

 On behalf of the whole Church, I ask you: 

 Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, 

 reject the evil powers of this world, 

 and repent of your sin? 


 Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you 

 to resist evil, injustice, and oppression 

 in whatever forms they present themselves? 


 Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you 

to resist evil, injustice, and oppression 

 in whatever forms they present themselves? 


The vows made at our Baptism is what enables us to “forget what lies behind” as we die to ourselves and rise in a new life, clothed in the faithfulness and righteousness of Jesus Christ. The things of the past, the things that competed for our attention, and pulled us away from God no longer have a hold on our lives. And now, in the new life, we put on – whether it be two weeks or two decades ago – we find a new life, free from the things that competed for our attention, living in the fullness of the faithfulness of Jesus. 


So, what then do are we look forward to? Frankly, I am not looking forward to another round of toilet paper shortages. 


We look forward to the transforming (v 21) power of God in Jesus Christ. We are looking forward to that day when the Kingdom of God is fully realized here on earth as it currently is in heaven. 


While the mess of 2020 continues, we do not look forward to the continued chaos of this world. No, we look forward, because “our citizenship is in heaven,” (v20) to the glory of Christ. Because we look forward to the good works of God in Jesus Christ we can “stand firm” (4:1) in the mess of a global pandemic, a nation coming to terms with it’s past and current racial injustices, murder hornets, wildfires, school at home, toilet paper shortages, or NOAA running through all of their planned storm names. We stand firm because we know that Christ had died, Christ is risen, and Christ will come again. 


Prayer: Holy and merciful God, you stand beside us in times of celebration and chaos, happy anniversaries, and the helpless feeling of anxiety. Stand beside us now as we forget what lies behind, and as we lean forward, straining toward the glory that comes to us through your Son. Watch over us, we pray. Watch over the caretakers and community helpers. Heal the sick, provide for those in need, and give comfort to the grieving. Amen. 

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