Pause

Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don't know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown? Will you let my name be known,
Will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?

“The Summons Song,” John L. Bell and Graham Maule, 1987

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Listen

Hear the Lord’s word, you leaders of Sodom. Listen to our God’s teaching, people of Gomorrah! What should I think about all your sacrifices? says the Lord. I’m fed up with entirely burned offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts. I don’t want the blood of bulls, lambs, and goats.

Wash! Be clean! Remove your ugly deeds from my sight. Put an end to such evil; learn to do good. Seek justice: help the oppressed; defend the orphan; plead for the widow.

Isaiah 1:10-11, 16-17

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Think

The Israelites have been loading up the sacrifices, trying to impress God with their impeccable record of following the law.

But God says, “Enough! I’m sick of these religious rituals. Here’s what I want: quit the ugliness and unkindness. Earn a varsity letter in doing good. Become an honors student in standing up for the mistreated. Gain a reputation for befriending outcasts; stand center-stage for the kids without parents; party with old people who’ve had bad news.”

God’s not about faking your way through life and minding all the rules. God came in Jesus Christ to show us reality. When you talk to thoughtful people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s, one of the great regrets they share is that they were once so caught up in high school insecurities, they didn’t see or know or care for the people there who were suffering.

In the film “Almost Famous,” the character Lester Bangs says to his friend: “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool.”

Cari Pattison

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Pray

Dear Jesus,
Give me your heart for the lost and lonely,
the ones left out and hurting.
Remove my own blinders,
and show me the ways I participate
in ugliness, injustice, and evil.
Wake me up, God.
Free me of the need to self-protect
and self-preserve.
Life’s too short for insecurity and social-climbing.
I want to be real.
I want to be like you.
Amen.

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Go

The question is not whether God has called you.

The question is how and where and whether you will say “yes.”

Go into this day brave.
Go into this day believing.
Go into this day knowing
that you are already enough.

Cari Pattison

Cari Pattison loves being a pastor. Ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA), she’s been a minister at The Reformed Church of Bronxville — near New York City — for almost ten years. She moonlights as a fitness instructor, having taught Jazzercise, yoga, barre, and Pilates over the past eight years. Kansas City will always be home for Cari, whose refrigerator is covered with pictures of her three baby nieces.

Reflections on the Way: Jesus the Very Thought of Thee/How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place

Ken Medema

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