Saturday, March 24, 2012


Children of Wrath

Scripture:  Ephesians 2:1-10

Have you ever considered the power of your words?  Can you recall a hurtful thing someone has said to you in the past or that you have said to someone in the past?  Often, words stay in our memories much longer than the feelings or the context in which they were said. We can speak out of impulse, use our words to manipulate, or communicate with others to inflict pain upon them.  When we use our words in this manner, we act as “children of wrath”.   Speaking in this manner, using our words to bite others, leaves us miserable and deadened in spirit.  The epistle explains that God reaches out to us in love even when we operate out of this wrath, giving us his Son to show us his love.  The Lord heals us and raises us through Jesus, restoring us to the people God created us to be.  Because even though we can operate out of wrath, we were created for good works, loving words, and union with God and each other.

Merciful Lord,
Smother any flame of wrath in my heart and replace it with the flame of your love.  Burn away the dross on my tongue and replace it with songs of your goodness.  Restore me to the beautiful creature you intended from the beginning. Amen.

 Mary Beth Beauchamp

Friday, March 23, 2012

FRIDAY, MARCH 23, 2012

Saints Are Sinners Who Never Give Up

Scripture:  Psalm 107: 17-22

My high school was represented by an angel with a black eye.  Though we were called the Saints, Tuffy, the Angel was our beloved mascot.  His robe was too big, his halo was falling off his head.  He was beaten up and disheveled but it was clear he would never give up.  His physique revealed that he was determined to live up to his name and become a saint no matter what.  The truth is, we all could use a little of Tuffy's tenacity in our spiritual lives.  Yesterday, we reflected on our sinfulness as fallen humans.  And when we examine ourselves to see the areas where we fail to live up to our potential, it is easy to feel helpless.  Often, we make the same mistakes time and again.  In the Psalm, we read of  God's people being near the gates of death, beaten down in every way, with only one hope left: maybe God will save us.  They cry out to God, just as the Israelites did in the desert when bitten by the seraphs, and God saves them.  Lent is the season of repentance but more importantly it is a season of recommitment to our Lord.  The most important attribute of someone striving to be holy is their ability to keep trying to draw closer to God, no matter how they fall short.  Therefore, let us reflect on our sins and repent of them.  But always with the emphasis being on trying to be loving, holy, and humble again tomorrow.   Like Tuffy, we must be determined that no matter how many times we may get things wrong, we will always pick ourselves up and try again, and again...and again.

Steadfast Lord,
I am determined to always strive to be holy.  No matter how I fail, never let me give up in the fight.  Thank you for rescuing me when I run out of strength.  Draw me close to you and fill my soul with the desire to try again each day.  Amen.

 Mary Beth Beauchamp

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Facing the Seraph

Scripture:  Psalm 107:17-22

Yesterday we reflected on our relationship with God and how we all have a spark of divinity within us, inherited from our Creator.  By contrast, today's reading turns our attention toward the flawed side of our nature.  We are “afflicted” by our sins.  Loathing “all manner of food”, we refuse the communion with God that gives us life, opting instead to languish “at the gates of death”.  In the desert, the Israelites were attacked by seraph serpents and God “snatched them from the grave” by telling Moses to erect the bronze serpent.  Their foe was clear and they needed physical healing from their snakebites.  Our foe may be less obvious.  What is the foe you need God to protect you from?  What drains you of the joy of knowing you are a child of God?  Perhaps it is a habit that is not life-giving.  Identify one of your foes and ask the Lord to save you from it.

Forgiving Lord,
Help us to face our sins, our fears, and our flawed nature.  Remind us that we are your children, precious and unique beyond all understanding. Convinced of our immeasurable value, be with us as we turn to face our foe and beg you to deliver us.  Amen.

 Mary Beth Beauchamp

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Cultivating Gratitude

Scripture:  Psalm 107:1-3

Even if we realize the importance of having an attitude of gratitude, it is often easy to complain about our blessings when they require sacrifices of us.  In the Psalm today, we find a simple way to cultivate and sustain a thankful heart. The Psalmist calls us to realize God's goodness, acknowledge who we are in relation to our Creator and to give God praise.  These three acts reorient our minds and hearts toward heaven.  We realize who we are and how wonderful it is to be loved by God as precious children.  When we focus on God and the ways we reflect God's goodness ourselves, the cares and trials of our day are not given undo significance.  Instead, our hearts become light.  We become convinced we were created for heaven and serving God through the labors of our day becomes a labor of love.  When our hearts are filled with gratitude and praise, the Lord is able to redeem us and gather us together from the four corners of the earth.   But these miraculous deeds can only be done for those who are filled with gratitude and love for God. 

Take a few minutes to reflect on what makes you the person you are.  List several of your talents, the ways God has pressed his fingerprint onto you.  Then offer the Lord your service, giving him your talents and efforts to bring about his kingdom.

Generous LORD, Thank you! Thank you for giving me life.  Thank you for saving me and refining me in this life so that I will be prepared to be with you in the next.  Help me to shine brightly as the person you created me to be and thereby, radiate your love to those I meet today.  Fill my heart with gratitude today, that I may better love and serve you. Amen.

 Mary Beth Beauchamp

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Rise to Bless You Still

Scripture:   Numbers 21:4-9
     O God beyond all praising,
     we worship you today
     and sing the love amazing
     that songs cannot repay;
     for we can only wonder
     at every gift you send,
     at blessings without number
     and mercies without end.
     We lift our hearts before you
     and wait upon your word,
     we honor and adore you,
     our great and mighty Lord.
     Then hear, O gracious Savior,
     accept the love we bring,
     that we who know your favor
     may serve you as our king;
     and whether our tomorrows
     be filled with good or ill,
     we'll triumph through our sorrows
     and rise to bless you still:
     to marvel at your beauty
     and glory in your ways,
     and make a joyful duty
     our sacrifice of praise.

On my wedding day, I walked down the aisle to the above hymn, "Rise to Bless You Still".  At the time, a few of my wedding guests thought the song was out of place.  Perhaps they thought it was overly somber.  But I believe it echos the wedding vows that are so essential to a Christian marriage: for better or worse, in sickness and in health... I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.  If only we could approach God this lent with similar resolve and steadfastness!  Come what may, I love you and will always love you.  I will serve all the days of my life.  As the hymn says, “and whether our tomorrows/ be filled with good or ill,/ we'll triumph through our sorrows/ and rise to bless you still.”

This disposition of heart is precisely what was lacking among the Israelites as they complained about life in the desert.  Yesterday, we looked at how important it is to be grateful for the wonderful things God does in our lives, even when they require sacrifices of us.  Today, I want to challenge us to go one step further and focus on the phenomenon of being in love.  When we are in love, nothing is important except being with the one we love.  We feel ready to tackle anything life can throw at us, so long as we are with them.  Today, let us look at our sorrows and joys in this light—as someone who is in love with God and willing to face anything as long as we can do so with our Lord!

Beloved Lord, I am in love with you.  I am ready to meet the sorrows and joys of each day so long as you will take my hand and be with me through it all.  Never let me lose sight of our love when the going gets tough. Amen.

 Mary Beth Beauchamp

Monday, March 19, 2012

MONDAY, MARCH 19, 2012

An Attitude of Gratitude

Scripture:  Numbers21:4-9

In college, my mentor, Sister Redempta, urged me to have an “attitude of gratitude”.   You can spread your joy to others or infect them with a sour mood.  The wisdom of her simple advice applies perfectly with today's reading from Numbers.  The Israelites are journeying on the Red Sea road and conditions are dire.  The people begin to grumble. Perhaps it started as a negative thought here or a comment there but eventually, they cry out to Moses.  “Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water?”  They have caught a very sour mood.  Even before God sends the serpents, their veins are filled with the venom of ingratitude.  They are “disgusted” with the “wretched food” of manna God provided for them and their miraculous deliverance from Egypt pales as they focus on their discontent with how things are going now. 

It is easy to understand their frustration, enduring such difficult circumstances.  But God punished their complaints even though times were very trying.  The blessings of freedom and manna required a lot of sacrifice from the Israelites.  It is often the case that God's deepest blessings bring a good deal of suffering alongside the joy.  The challenge is to be grateful for the blessings God bestows and never allow the sacrifices that accompany them to fill us with ingratitude.

Patient LORD, I want to have a grateful heart.  Thank you for the blessings in my life and help me to remain thankful for them when they require me to endure hardships.  Keep me from complaining about my blessings. Amen.

 Mary Beth Beauchamp

Sunday, March 18, 2012

SUNDAY, MARCH 18, 2012

The Proclamation

Scripture:  John 2:16-17

Go, Preach My Gospel

Go preach my gospel saith the Lord. Bid the whole earth my grace receive. Explain to them my sacred word; Bid them believe, obey and live.
I'll make my great commission known, And ye shall prove My gospel true, by all the words that I have done And all the wonders ye shall do.
Go, heal the sick; go raise the dead; go cast out devils in My name; Nor let My prophets be afraid, though Greeks reproach and Jews blaspheme.
While thus ye follow my commands I'm with you till the world shall end; All power in trusted in My hands I can destroy and can defend.
HE spake and light shone round His head, On a bright cloud to heaven he rode. They to the farthest nation spread the grace of their ascended God.

In fulfillment of the Ten Commandments, Jesus cleansed the Temple from vendors and money changers who were defaming the holiness of God. It is this moment that Jesus teaches the disciples as well as the present generation to walk boldly in the commandments. We must not be timid in our preaching and teaching, but stand on what we know and what is right and good. 

At Duke Divinity School, students have an opportunity to get a Certificate in Gender, Theology and Ministry, by completing a project in concerns about gender and ministry. One student presented her project on the timidity of female seminarians. In the small case study comprised of interviews, she found that women are less likely to speak up in class, feel intimidated when new topics are introduced, and question their own wisdom and experience. 

American women on a global scale are taught to be less assertive in personal, professional, and academic arenas. Women can be self-conscious, or believe that our opinions are not as important as the opinions of others. Jesus does not teach us that. If we are to model our lives after Jesus’ ministry, then we must be bold. Jesus was faced with vehement opposition, but still walked boldly.

Prayer:  Lord, we want to follow in your way boldly and with conviction, because your life models no other way. Push out feelings of doubt and insecurity and pour in confidence, speech, wisdom and courage. We know we have the power to preach and teach, because you gave it to us. Thank you Lord, for being our confidence.  Amen.

 Emma Akpan

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