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“I am no longer my own, but thine.”

January 2, 2023
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Daily Scripture

Exodus 19:5-6; 1 Peter 2:5-7, 9-10

Worship at every Resurrection location on Sunday, January 1, 2023 was a covenant renewal service, built around John Wesley’s Covenant prayer. This week’s GPS will lead us through the prayer phrase by phrase. You can hear “I Am Yours,” the COR Worship Collective song based on the Covenant Prayer, by clicking here.

You can study the prayer more deeply through Chris Folmsbee’s book The Wesley Prayer Challenge Participant Book, published by Abingdon Press. The book is available through the Well Bookstore (https://thewell.cor.org/), is also available in a Kindle version, and has resources for group as well as individual study.

Exodus 19

5 So now, if you faithfully obey me and stay true to my covenant, you will be my most precious possession out of all the peoples, since the whole earth belongs to me. 6 You will be a kingdom of priests for me and a holy nation. These are the words you should say to the Israelites.”

1 Peter 2

5 You yourselves are being built like living stones into a spiritual temple. You are being made into a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 Thus it is written in scripture, Look! I am laying a cornerstone in Zion, chosen, valuable. The person who believes in him will never be shamed [Isaiah 28:16]. 7 So God honors you who believe. For those who refuse to believe, though, the stone the builders tossed aside has become the capstone.
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people who are God’s own possession. You have become this people so that you may speak of the wonderful acts of the one who called you out of darkness into his amazing light. 10 Once you weren’t a people, but now you are God’s people. Once you hadn’t received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

The medieval church said church leaders, from priests to popes, were spiritually and legally superior to everyone else. The Reformation strongly disagreed, based on the Bible. “God gave the ‘precious keys’ for heaven itself, which was first received in baptism, to all believers…. Luther then referred to such forgiven sinners as ‘the priesthood of all believers,’ a holy priesthood (1 Peter 2:5) that was not reserved for a special class of people sacramentally ordained.” * All of us are God’s, not our own.

  • New Testament Christians found Jesus’ work all through the Old Testament. Verse 6 quoted Isaiah 28:16; verse 7 drew on Psalm 118:22; verse 9 took an image Exodus 19:6 used for Israel, and verse 10 inverted the sad symbolic names of Hosea’s children (Hosea 1). Have you ever thought of yourself as a member of “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people who are God’s own possession”? How can that deepen your sense of mission and purpose?
  • Some Bible scholars believe 1 Peter was adapted from instruction for new converts at their baptism. (The church pictured in Acts 2:41-47 included 3000 or more people who joined after Peter’s sermon at Pentecost.) How, if at all, do you remind yourself of your confirmation, baptism, or other time when you first “owned” your faith in Jesus? (To learn more about baptism, for you or someone else, click here.) How do you let your identity as a Christ-follower shape your daily life?
Prayer

Lord God, I often fail you, yet you call me chosen, holy, a part of a royal priesthood. Help me each day as I seek to live into the amazing identity with which you honor me as your child. Amen.

GPS Insights

 Emily Stirewalt

Emily Stirewalt

Emily Stirewalt is an ordained Elder in the Missouri Annual Conference, and has served in many different roles throughout Missouri since 2007. She is thrilled to be specializing in pastoral care of elderly adults now as Resurrection's Silverlink Pastor. She is married to Randall, a special education teacher. They have two daughters, Elliott and Marlowe. When Emily is not in a care home sharing communion or with her family on another Kansas City adventure, you can find her curled up on the couch at home binge watching "Friends" or "Golden Girls."

At the start of 2019, just four short years ago, my husband and I began the journey of a lifetime, becoming licensed foster parents. For all of January and February, we waited for the phone to ring. We talked to many other foster parents who had waited just like us and their response was always the same: “Once the calls start coming, they will not stop, so try to enjoy this time of waiting.” We did okay with that, I think. And I will always be proud of the boundary we held when asked to take a child that we knew would not be a fit in our home. It was a time of deep discernment and prayer that yielded us having to say a difficult “no,” but it was right and taught us a lot about who we were called to be.

Eventually the call we had been waiting for came. We could pick up a newborn baby boy at the hospital, and his one-year-old sister and three-year-old brother needed a place, too. It was certainly the hardest introduction to parenthood we could have ever imagined. But every time I pray this part of the Wesleyan Covenant Prayer, I am reminded that God works with us when we set boundaries and say the “no’s” and “yes’s” we need to say. We could not wait to be put to doing as foster care parents. I cannot say we were exactly excited to suffer (which we absolutely did a fair amount of, especially when we had to say goodbye to those babes we had loved for sixteen months), but because of our faith in God, we knew our suffering was nothing compared to the love and safety the children needed to know.

Now, we are the proud parents of an adopted little girl. At the time of this publishing, her little brother will be just one day from his own adoption–by a different family. That was another hard “no” to say, but since I was pregnant when he was born, three children under 17 months was another “no” we had to pray over and eventually say. His mama is amazing, and we consider them family. In fact, she plans to have him baptized in the new year, a baptism I have been asked to perform. God has ranked me with the best of the best–all because when we yield our lives, wondrous things happen.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* Steven Paulson, Luther for Armchair Theologians. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004, p. 163.