Church of the Nativity

Daily Devotional
Voices From the Pew
March
As the deer longs for the water-brooks,
so longs my soul for you, O God.
My soul is athirst for God, athirst for the living God;
when shall I come to appear before the presence of God?
Psalm 42:1-2
Prayer is our connection with God, the discipline that helps our souls stay aligned with God’s will. Daily
prayer is the most basic of Christian disciplines, helping us remember that God is present in all the joyous,
sorrowful, mundane, and ordinary parts of our lives. By maintaining a steady diet of daily prayer, we learn
to open our hearts and minds to God’s will, and grow to recognize God’s voice as it speaks in our hearts.
Most of us, however, stay so busy so much of the time that it is hard to make time for daily prayer, or even
when we make time for it, it is hard to keep our minds focused. One way to approach this problem is to
begin with daily devotions. This collection of daily devotions, spiritual exercises, and prayers was created by
a group of people from Episcopal Church of the Nativity, Scottsdale. These are prayerful people who have
found ways to share the prayers of their hearts with you.
I hope that as you begin to use this book, you will find your mind enlightened and your heart opened to the
presence of the living God, for whom our souls are athirst.
Many thanks to Lani Sambach, the editor of this collection, and Mina Rafferty for her assistance.
In Christ,
The Rev. Susan Brown Snook
March 1.

Spiritual Exercise
Worship this week. Really worship. Use Saturday evening to begin
preparing for worship. Set aside a time of solitude when you can
reflect on the power and the glory of God. Meditate on His love for
you. Go early to church and spend time worshiping and thanking
God. Pray for those around you that they might be moved by God
during the service. Above all, allow yourself to truly feel the
presence of God moving among the people.
March 2. David Bolger
Luke 17: v. 5-6. The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith
as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, ‘be rooted up, and be planted in the sea,’
and it would obey you.”
We’ve all heard those verses all of our lives, but until I was blessed to become part of Church of the
Nativity a little over 2 years ago, I never took the Lord’s admonition personally. But in the last two years,
I have learned that faith is best demonstrated by action. For me, there is no better place to put faith into
action than here at Nativity. What the mustard seed has come to mean to me is that my newness, my
“size” in terms of the length of my affiliation with this parish really has nothing to
do with my opportunity to serve – to put my faith in action. And I believe this is
true for anyone who chooses this church as their own. Whether you’re a “mustard
seed” like me or a “sycamore tree” in terms of how long you’ve been in this
Nativity community, the door of service is open and the light of faith is always on.
If you want to serve, there are no waiting lines or seniority lists, and tenure isn’t
required. Whether you have a lot or a little time or treasure to give, whether you’re
reading this after a few weeks, a few months, or a few years at Nativity, you have a
place and an opportunity to have your faith increased through your actions. Just
listen. Just ask. And it will happen.
March 3.
The kind of religion that God requires, and will accept, does not consist in weak, dull, and lifeless
“wouldings” – those weak inclinations that lack convictions – that raise us but a little above
indifference. God, in his word, greatly insists that we be in good earnest, fervent in spirit, and that
our hearts be engaged vigorously in our religion: “Be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Rom.
12:11)
“And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? To fear the Lord your God, to
walk in his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all
your soul” (Deut.10:12). This fervent, vigorous engagement of the heart is the fruit of a real
circumcision of the heart that alone has the promise of life. “And the Lord your God will circumcise
your heart, and the heart of your children, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all
your soul that you might live.” (Deut. 30:6)
Jonathan Edwards Religious Affections
March 4.
Jesus the Very Thought of Thee
O hope of every contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek;
To those who fall, how kind thou art!
How good to those who seek!
But what to those who find?
Ah, this No tongue nor pen can show;
The love of Jesus, what it is
None but His loved ones know.
Bernard of Clairvaux
March 5. Jean Mesropian
Yesterday is history,
Tomorrow is a mystery,
And today is a gift;
That’s why they call it the present.
Eleanor Roosevelt
March 6.
AlmlghLy and everlasung Cod, you haLe noLhlng you have made
and forglve Lhe slns of all who are penlLenL, CreaLe and make ln us new
and conLrlLe hearLs, LhaL we, worLhlly lamenung our slns and
acknowledglng our wreLchedness, may obLaln of you, Lhe Cod of all
mercy, perfecL remlsslon and forglveness, Lhrough !esus ChrlsL our
Lord, who llves and relgns wlLh you and Lhe Poly SplrlL, one Cod,
forever and ever. Amen.
!""# "% &"''"( )*+,-*
March 7. David Deppen
One of the most serviceable images of the Christian life is the Journey – the
Pilgrim’s Progress. And if our life is a journey, then Lent is a particular and special
leg of that progress – a journey within – a journey through a wilderness. The forty
days of Lent are meant to contrast with the fifty days of Easter – the fast before the
feast – the time of contemplation, of taking private stock of oneself, before the joy of
forgiveness and rebirth promised in the Resurrection. This journey into the
wilderness is like the forty days our Lord spent alone preparing Himself for His
public ministry. It is a time to evaluate life and recommit ourselves to our Christian
calling. All that Nativity offers in its Lenten program is intended to help you in
making your particular journey more meaningful.
I invite you to approach this Lenten journey as mature or maturing Christian
men and women. May you grow in it to a new and richer understanding of God’s
love in the gift to us of His Son.?
March 8. Shelley Byrnes
He answered, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all
your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love
your neighbor as yourself.'"
(Luke 10:27)
March 10.
Isaiah 30:18
“Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you;
Therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
Blessed are all those who wait for him.”
March 11.

Þsalms 27:14
ºWalL for Lhe Lord,
8e sLrong, and leL your hearL Lake courage,
WalL for Lhe Lord!"
March 12.
Lent is a promise of hope—of a way out of whatever darkness we may find ourselves in. Not
because of Lent, but because of what lies at the end of Lent. Easter! The Queen of Seasons!
The promise of new life, of rebirth, of the death of winter and the death of sin—yes, and the
death of death itself. Easter is the goal; Lent is the way. And because Lent is a lengthening
process, a process of growth and change, Lent provides us with wonderful opportunities for
dealing with our lives in new and more positive ways.
Of course we can skip Lent altogether by ignoring it. Then we run the risk of missing all that
Easter promises and brings with it. But when we make the investment to keep a holy Lent – in
the words of the Prayer Book “by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting and self-
denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word,” – into better, more spiritually-
attuned and mature Christians. Lent is not just an optimal exercise for the devout – it is for us
all. Go for it!!!
My Dear People
March 13. Joy Wiseman
St. Paul in Phillippians 4:8
Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,
Whatever is pure, Whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable;
If anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.
March 14.
Though you couldn’t tell by watching him at youth group, David had a social anxiety disorder.
He struggled in social situations to the point that he avoided school dances, sporting events, and
parties. When in an uncomfortable situation, he would hyperventilate and start shaking. Sometimes
he would even pass out.
David later explained that church was the one place that he felt comfortable. When asked to
think through what made his church experiences different, he said, “I can’t really explain what makes
this place different, but I know that I feel God’s love when I’m with these people.”
Christian community is powerful stuff. It’s hard to describe because, in many ways, God’s love
for us is beyond words. The difference here is the Holy Spirit in our midst, transforming our lives and
calling us to love each other as God loves. In praying for each other, we declare God’s power in our
lives. We bear each other’s burdens and feel the depth of relationships that can only come through
living together as disciples of Christ.
Holy One, thank you for brothers and sisters in Christ who show your love to me and challenge me to
be your disciple. May I love and challenge others to serve you today and always. Amen.
March 15.
St. Augustine helps give us insight into moral theology. He points out
that we all have the dilemma of conflicting wills. We are at odds with
ourselves, a house divided. Because we are stamped with the image of
God, we long for the good, the true, the beautiful. Because we live in a
good world gone bad, we hanker after the distortions of God’s good
creation. We try by sheer willpower to seek the good but we fail, always
fail, because the will is in conflict with itself and is in need of redemption.
Merely to think good thoughts or to desire good things is not enough. We
need –as Augustine and Paul before him—the transforming power of Jesus
Christ alive and present among us. Then our conflicting wills can come
under the rule of the divine Arbitrator.
Richard Foster – Devotional Classics Seasoned with Love
March 16.
I am a Christian
When I say that “I am a Christian,” I am not shouting that “I am clean living,” I’m whispering “I was
lost but now I’m found and forgiven.”
When I say “I am a Christian,” I don’t speak of this with pride. I’m confessing that I stumble and
need Christ to be my guide.
When I say “I am a Christian,” I’m not trying to be strong. I’m professing that I’m weak and need
His strength to carry on.
When I say “I am a Christian,” I’m not bragging of success. I’m admitting I have failed and need
God to clean my mess.
When I say I am a Christian,” I’m not claiming to be perfect. My flaws are far too visible, but God
believes I’m worth it.
When I say “I am a Christian, “I still feel the sting of pain. I have my share of heartaches, so I call
upon His name.
When I say “I am a Christian,” I’m not holier than thou. I’m just a simple sinner who received God’s
good grace, somehow!
August 31, 2012 Facebook
March 17
Spiritual Exercise
Loving our neighbor, says Bernard of Clairvaux,
keeps our self-love in check. This week make an
effort to lighten the burden of those around you,
beginning with those with whom you live. The
invaluable gift of listening is a great way to start.
March 18. Shirley Cope
But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious,
Long suffering and abundant in mercy and truth.
Psalms 86:15
March 19.

Self-reliance is a difficult thing to let go. From a young age we are taught and often exclaim
that we can do things all by ourselves. But there are times when we need to cling to
someone else, to put our trust in one who does not fail. God loves us and offers a refuge like
that of a bird that covers its young with its wings.
When we begin to put our trust in God and practice giving that trust daily, it becomes
second nature. We can rest assured that God really is our refuge and our fortress – in hard
times and in good. It’s a choice we make – to be willing to give our trust to God.
Where do you put your trust? In the things that you can gain on earth? Or in the God who
created the earth?
Holy God, thank you for being a fortress and refuge – in times of need as well as in times of
joy. Help me to trust you more, to seek after you instead of seeking after my own desires.
Amen
March 20.
Psalm 108
My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make melody.
Awake, my soul!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn.
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples,
And I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is higher than the heavens,
And your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
March 21 .Shelley Byrnes
The Parable of the Lost Son
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father,
‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.13 “Not long
after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered
his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole
country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that
country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that
the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How
many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set
out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against
you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired
servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.“But while he was still a long way off, his father
saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and
kissed him.21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no
longer worthy to be called your son.
Continued on the next page
March 21, continued
But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his
finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and
celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they
began to celebrate.25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he
heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going
on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has
him back safe and sound.’28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father
went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been
slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could
celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with
prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are
always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this
brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
Luke 15: 11-32
March 22.
Trust is a tricky thing. Easy to talk about, much harder to understand. When we trust
someone, we’re saying that we have confidence in their honesty and integrity. We want our
parents and teachers to trust us. We know that trust is important in friendships. We know
that trust takes a while to build up and can be destroyed with one word or action.
But what does it mean to trust in God? When we trust in God, we move beyond confidence
and into reliance. Trusting in God means relying on God for, well, everything. Our strength
comes from God. Our source of love comes from God. Our values and focus come from
God.
Too often, though, we live as though God is just someone convenient to go to when we
need help. How would your life be different if you fully relied on God each and every
moment of your day? Imagine how the world would be different if everyone lived this
way!
Michael Harper www.d365.org
March 23
Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him,
and to our god, for he will freely pardon.
Isaiah 55:7
March 24.
Spiritual Exercise
Allow Christ to rescue you, as he did Paul, from the war
within. Resolve not to resolve, but instead, resign. Let
Christ have control of the struggle within.
March 25.
Psalm 107:9

For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul
With goodness.
Let God fill you up today!!!
March 26. Brad Haase
Father, I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me,
and in all Your creatures -
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands,
without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
For you are my Father.
prayer of abandonment - charles de foucauld
March 27. Liz Sambach
For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not
because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the
beginning of time - to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.
~ 2 Timothy 1:9
March 28. Jeff Jameson
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least
of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ MT 25:40
We are all so blessed in many, many ways. Because God is in everyone, we
must lift up all those around us and as this powerful passage displays, our
charge is to ensure even the “least” of our neighbors shall be served.
March 29. Shelley Byrnes
No human activity draws us more deeply into the heart of God than
prayer. And no way of prayer places us more solidly into the affairs of
human life than intercessory prayer. This is as it should be.
Love of god, of necessity, leads to love of neighbor. They are not two
commands, but one.
As we learn to love people – truly love them – we will desire for them
far more than it is within our power to give them, and that will drive us all
the more deeply into prayer for them. The converse is also true: the more
we pray for people the more we will come to love them. Here, then, is a
penetrating test of our devotion: if we do not pray for people – truly pray
for them – how can we say that we love them?
Richard Foster – Devotional Classics
March 30.
He Maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
Psalm 23:22
March 31.
Spiritual Exercise
Each day this week set aside fifteen minutes for solitude and
meditation. Relax from strain and stress and simply rest in God’s
presence.

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