Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Larry Pray

Friday, November 28

God has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
—Luke 1:51-53

The iron curtain had just fallen. I was in Moscow. I did not speak a word of Russian, and my understanding of Orthodox liturgy was less than shallow. But I knew times were hard. The grandmother of the woman I was staying with received a pension of 230 rubles a month. When they asked if I would buy a lemon for the afternoon tea, it cost 70 rubles.

Several days later, with the help of a translator, I attended a Sunday worship service. After the singing, chanting, and prayers, a priest emerged through the gates that separated the congregation from the altar. It was time for the sermon. We all moved forward and gathered around to hear what the word for the day would be. The crowd he spoke to was not rich. They too had to stretch their rubles. After the service many remained at the church for their meal.

My translator told me what the priest said. “Dearly Beloved,” he began,

I know these are difficult times. I have been in your homes. I know that your cupboards are nearly bare. I know you are wondering what is going to happen. I know how difficult these times are for you. But I have a word for you. We have neighbors who have even less than we do. We must remember them. We must share with them. They are our neighbors, and this is what God would have us do.

As he spoke we moved forward, in order to hear every word. When he drew the sermon to a close, we stepped back, and  the choir began to sing. Soon it was time for communion. And I saw, as only the heart can see, what we are called to do. Today is the first day in a season of giving. And today, the God of life has a word for us too. Thanks be to God.

Thank you for the wisdom, the strength and the power that is yours to give and ours to share as we once again prepare for the return of the One who has never left. Amen.