Archive E-Devotions

Weekly E-Devotions Archives


Welcome to the E-Devotions Archive Page.  Here you will find our past e-devotions that were emailed to our current subscribers.

If you have any questions or suggestions please email our Web Team
Copyright 2007-16 All Saints Lutheran Church

Weekly e-Devotion: Sept 6 Edition

Luke 14:25-33

Gospel Lesson for Sunday Sept 8 2019

25 Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, 26Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. 27Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? 29Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, 30saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace.33So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.”

God's Economy

    Here is that disturbing verse again; we find it at least three times in the gospel… “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” Hate. The KJV Dictionary says that “hate” in this context means “to love less.” Therefore, we are to love our family and ourselves, but not so much and so selfishly that we turn away from loving God with all our minds, hearts and souls (and our neighbor as ourselves).
    This passage is all about counting the cost… something a homeowner does at least weekly. Someone planning for retirement should be doing it earlier rather than later in their career. It’s something Congress should do more of. Cost/benefit analyses are the meat and potatoes of business. When Jesus says, in verse 33, “So therefore, none of you can become my disciples if you do not give up all your possessions,” is he really saying ‘give up’ as in a U-Haul to Goodwill? Or is he saying, “love these less than me because it won’t be possible to follow me if you are dragging 1,700 square feet of house and stuff and family along behind you (think ‘albatross’).
As the writer of Deuteronomy put it, “I have set before you life and death…choose life” (Deut. 30:19). In what ways have you chosen life? Are there ways you have chosen death? I think it’s safe to say that we all have made life-giving and death-dealing choices as we navigate our way through our days. What I hear Jesus asking for is that we face and weigh the risks and figure them into our discipleship, rather than only focusing on the joys and rewards of following Christ and denying the possibility that any risks factor into the equation. While Jesus was, no doubt, employing Middle Eastern hyperbole to get his point across, he was demanding our willingness to embrace a radical renunciation of this world in deference to His world… our earthly home for the heavenly kingdom which is both now and not yet, both right here and at the same time in our Father’s arms!
Jesus rejected other impetuous pledges of allegiance: someone was eager to follow Jesus everywhere, but had not factored in the possibility of homelessness; or again, someone wants to get a few things done first before finally feeling free to follow Christ. Sacrificing the best for the sake of the good is not how God’s kingdom works. So, do we abandon our homes, walk out on our families, give our possessions to the neighbors and then…what? No, God has richly blessed us and the cost—while it means our whole lives—is a cost we can afford to pay because, when our priorities are aligned with God’s, he will restore to us whatever must be taken away for the sake of his kingdom. Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
When the cost is finally tallied, may we say, along with St. Augustine and all the saints who put themselves fully into the hands of God, "Lord, give what you command, and command what you will." Jesus really means it. If we lose our lives for his sake, we will find it—in magnificent abundance!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191.

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website.

Weekly e-Devotion: August 23 Edition

Luke 13:10-17

Gospel Lesson for Sunday August 25, 2019

10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. 11And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. 12When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” 13When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. 14But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” 15But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? 16And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” 17When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.

Breaking Rules

   We believe that Jesus came to make us whole. Do we ever put constraints on the how and the when of that wholeness? I know I do from time to time. I have altogether too much in common with those pesky synagogue leaders whose very identity was based on adherence to predictable tradition. If God is going to break into the world in unexpected and/or uncomfortable ways, I would like some notice, please!
    It should be obvious to those for whom grace abounds that love triumphs over legalism…except that it isn’t always obvious or clear-cut. Skirmishes around immigrants at our border are a fair example of the kind of conflict those synagogue leaders highlight. Even though they ambushed Jesus, he made his encounter with the crippled woman into a teachable moment about the difference between the spirit of Sabbath and the death-dealing rules enforced to artificially create righteousness.
As someone wrote, “Jesus is not served if we step over our neighbor to reach the church door.” By serving our neighbor, we are also worshipping God. There is no either/or in God’s world. Jesus healing on the Sabbath is just one more spiritual shock treatment administered to the status quo.
Another remarkable aspect to this story is that Jesus didn’t heal this woman because she asked. She might have been as amazed in a good way as the synagogue leaders were in a bad way! He heals out of the abundance of his love and mercy to each one of us, whether we ask or even believe that we are worthy of healing… or that healing is even in the cards.
The woman was bound by physical infirmity; the religious leaders of the day were bound in a different way. They were bound by their own expectations of a God that they could contain within a Sabbath. Depending on who you identify with in this passage, you either hear good news… “You are free!” or you hear rebuke…“You hypocrite!” Depending on the day, I have heard both in proportion to my willingness to let God be God in my life.
Luther wrote, “The true Sabbath works consist in doing works of God, hearing the Word, praying, doing good in every way to the neighbor. The ungodly neither do nor teach any of this.” (LW, vol. XVII, p. 289).
Suzanne Guthrie, priest in the Episcopal Church, wrote, “That Jesus healed on the Sabbath is the very sign we’re looking for. Not because he is a promise of some future ‘better place’ we’ll deserve when we die. But because he calls us to act beyond convention, as if the very soul of heaven is at stake—not just for ourselves but for all being.”
When Jesus came to earth, he went about bringing earth back into heaven. He turned a rule-bound Sabbath into our Resurrection Day! That meant (and still means) breaking some fear-based rules. Are there any rules in your life that prevent your freedom in Christ? The old saying, “rules were made to be broken” is never more true than when those rules get in the way of God’s best for us. The Bible is full of rule-breakers, chief among them our Lord Jesus Christ. He broke every rule that stood against our freedom in Him. May we vow to do the same.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191.

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website.

Weekly e-Devotion: August 9 Edition

Luke 12:32-40

Gospel Lesson for Sunday August 11, 2019

32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.35 “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit; 36be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet, so that they may open the door for him as soon as he comes and knocks. 37Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes; truly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them. 38If he comes during the middle of the night, or near dawn, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.39 “But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

Being Prepared

    In last week’s gospel reading, Jesus asked us to consider what might happen to us if we persisted in distracting ourselves by essentially “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic,” focusing on the transitory shoring up of our resources and precious desires while ignoring the eternal necessities.
    This week, Jesus begins by telling us that our Father is pleased to give us the kingdom. Terrific. Good news indeed!. Then immediately we are stopped in our tracks by his pronouncement, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor.” That is the lead we bury during stewardship season, but it is what God is after, first in the attitude of our hearts and then in the priorities of our lives.
    When we realize what Jesus is asking of his flock, we might be tempted to respond as a friend of mine once did… “I can’t afford your gift!” Many of us feel that kind of unease as we realize that we are to “sell our possessions, and give alms (v. 33).” This is framed with a sense of urgency because God will return before we know it and in a way we won’t expect!  To “gird one’s loins” is a biblical phrase meaning to cinch one’s garments in a manner that won’t impede a “quick getaway” or interfere with work that needs to be done! Jesus wants us to be spiritually suited up and ready for action!  With the light of God both before us and within us, and a purse that doesn’t wear out (banking on God’s abundance, not NASDAQ’s), we are virtually to be standing on tiptoes awaiting the Lord.
    We can go to two unfortunate extremes when thinking about Jesus and possessions! We can either demonize wealth or romanticize poverty. Both attitudes are caricatures of the issue we face. St. Francis of Assisi prayed, “It is in giving that we receive.” God’s attitude about our earthly possessions is to be ours as well… maintain a loose grip on it all so that we can drop everything when Jesus bids us “Come!”
    Our lives are a series of “heart transplants,” of removing blockages, of implanting spiritual stents so that our souls don’t close up for good. And it is precisely our possessions, our preoccupations, our selfish desires, and our spiritual sloth that clog our hearts, leaving little room for what God actually offers us… the true desires of our hearts when we respond to God with faith, not fear. For those of us who still keep a check register, flip through the pages and see which kingdom is reflected there.
    I hesitate to “follow my heart” without the sort of checks and balances afforded by prayer and the fellowship of believers. Jeremiah (17:9) was very clear that the heart is desperately wicked and pretty hard to ‘know’ all by ourselves. Our best assurance that we are operating in God’s realm is that a redeemed heart will long for the place where, as Frederick Buechner wrote, “your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” In that “sweet spot,” resting in God will suddenly be all we want or need. Our hearts are following our treasures. Where are you headed?

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191.

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website.

Weekly e-Devotion: July 26 Edition

Luke 11:1-13

Gospel Lesson for Sunday July 28, 2019

He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 2He said to them, “When you pray, say:
‘Father, hallowed be your name.
 Your kingdom come. 
3Give us each day our daily bread. 
4And forgive us our sins,
 for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
 And do not bring us to the time of trial.’
 And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread;6for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ 7And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 8I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs. 9“So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Teach us to Pray

  Every liturgical church in Christendom recites these words at least weekly. It is a familiar and mostly comfortable prayer and it covers the bases!  In this week’s gospel, however, it is worth noting that when Jesus shared this prayer with the disciples, they had not asked him to give them a prayer, but to teach them to pray!  In reply, he modeled this prayer pattern for them, showing them to whom they should pray and what they should say!  And following on the heels of this prayer, he tells them a story about “prayer in action,” because some of our prayers will be done on our knees, others on our feet with helping hands and open hearts.
    We pray to the ineffable God of the infinite who also just happens to be our Daddy (Abba); we praise him and yearn for his kingdom even though there are some aspects of that kingdom that give us the willies; we pray for our daily bread, not our weekly or monthly stash of manna that will often rot before we can consume it; and, most particularly frightening, we ask for forgiveness from God as we have forgiven others. Clearly, this is a prayer fashioned for community as each petition employs the plural: “give us each day,” “forgive us our sins” and so on.
After providing this “formula” for prayer, Jesus went on to teach prayer in another way; he shared the parable of the unrelenting neighbor!  The story is reminiscent of children who pester their folks until they get an answer!  And as parents know, giving children everything they desire is never in their best interests (snakes and scorpions, for example).  But, in our very persistence… beseeching, cajoling, bargaining and submitting to God…we are reshaped and our very wants and needs start to change because we are being transformed more and more into God’s image and likeness. In the meantime, we cling to Romans 8:28 and trust the promise of Psalm 138:8, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me,” regardless of my feelings about the adequacy or efficacy of my prayer life!  
A monk of the 4th century, Evagrius, upon comparing his life with the petitions in the Lord’s prayer, fled to the desert and became one of those desert fathers whose wisdom still informs the Church today. In his Chapters on Prayer, he wrote,

 "Pray not to this end, that your own desires be fulfilled. You can be sure they do not fully accord with the will of God. Once you have learned to accept this point, pray instead that 'thy will be done' in me. In every matter ask him in this way for what is good and for what confers profit on your soul, for you yourself do not seek this so completely as he does."

    And yet, he teaches us this prayer because he wants us to seek, to yearn, to ask, to find, to yield. Because he wants nothing more than to give us the kingdom. Amen.


e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191.

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website.

Weekly e-Devotion: June 28 Edition

Luke 9:51-62

Gospel Lesson for Sunday June 30 2019

 51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; 53but they did not receive him, because his face was set towards Jerusalem. 54When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them? 55But he turned and rebuked them. 566Then they went on to another village. 57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but, as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”611Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”


   In my mid-twentieth century childhood, the missionary story that loomed large over my conservative church community was the story of the five Christians martyred by the Huaorani people of Ecuador. In college, I was privileged to know the wife and daughter of Jim Elliot, one of those martyrs. A quote of his that I come back to again and again is “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
    Jesus is always looking for disciples who won’t stop plowing in the middle of the field! Those who told Jesus they would follow him just as soon as they did (fill in the blank) were not ready for the commitment of discipleship. Jesus said of them, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God." Lot’s wife is another one who “looked back” and she became a high-sodium- count statue for her efforts! God truly would like us to count the cost before we claim to be his followers. Because the going will be as tough as it is glorious.
St. Paul, in Sunday’s passage from Galatians, describes the fruits of the Spirit and the freedom a Spirit-led life affords us. Ironically, the things we are more prone to are the shackles of slavery, as our fallen nature lends them the power to entice us away from holiness every single day! As Elisabeth Elliot once wrote (yes, Jim’s wife), “When obedience to God contradicts what I believe will give me pleasure, let me ask myself if I love him.”
Commitment is nothing more and nothing less than a choice. Commitment to God may mean a hundred choices a day. Can you recall a time when you didn’t piddle around digging up and re-burying things already dead and gone, but instead, followed the edict of Hebrews 12:1 to “…throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and run with perseverance the race marked out for us?”
Usually those seeking power and recruiting followers will minimize the difficulties and emphasize all the perks of commitment to their cause. After all, who wants to follow someone who is all doom and gloom and tells you from the get-go that this will not be easy and will sometimes scare you (literally) to death? So, what is Jesus’ plan with these caveats to potential disciples? His plan is that he wants us to want God in our lives for the right reasons, for the difficult reasons and for the courageous reasons. Fair-weather disciples are less than useless; they actually harm and tarnish the cause of Christ. John writes that Jesus went even farther (15:18-25). He wants to make sure we understand the “cost of discipleship” which isn’t without great mercy, peace and joy. However, the sufferings of Christ are bound to assail us as well, and more so as we grow into his likeness. We need to know what we signed up for that so that when it comes we will know why it comes and from Whom our strength and victory will come.
When the time comes and your faith is tested, look back on all the decisions you have made to follow Christ. Remember what God has done for you. And make your next faithful choice.

   e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: June 14 Edition

John 16:12-15

Gospel Lesson for Sunday June 16 2019

 12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”


    We are creatures of threes. Even our childhood tales give us early inklings that there is something about three that is lacking in one or in two. I love the riff that professor Alyce McKenzie does on our propensity to live by threes:

“We read The Three Little Pigs, Three Billy Goats Gruff, Goldilocks and the Three Bears before we eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with a knife, fork, and spoon. We hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil despite the fact that we are threatened by lions, tigers, and bears. We play rock, paper, scissors, and we enter into life lock, stock, and barrel. Our goals are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and we count on the judicial, legislative, and executive branches of government to assist us in this pursuit, yesterday, today, and tomorrow, because we cherish our government of the people, by the people, and for the people. We live a hop, skip, and a jump from snap, crackle, and pop. Our journey of life has a beginning, a middle, and an end. On the journey we encounter lights that may be red, yellow, or green. Our motto, for the past, the present, and the future is Ready, Set, Go!”

   And then there is the marvelous motto of The Three Musketeers: “All for One and One for All.” This is not to trivialize the concept of a triune God, but to explore another way for us relate to such a complication in our relationship with God who has manifested Himself to us in three persons while retaining one essence.
    If God were strictly only ‘One,’ would there have been three days in a tomb without the existence of the living God? If God were only ‘Two,’ would there be any room for others, or would this be a relationship complete unto itself? God has given us enough in Scripture and in our own experiences to conclude that God comes to us in three major ways: Father/Mother (Creator), Son/Savior (Redeemer) and enlivening Spirit (Sanctifier), transporting us into the very arms of God where we join our hands and hearts in the divine dance of the Spirit.
Instead of trying to figure it out, as though it is a puzzle with a missing piece, “Trinity” is one of those concepts that has to be believed to be seen! And the only way to begin to believe it is to join the dance,i.e., accept the hand of Christ and let God’s Spirit take the lead, guiding us into the ultimate choreography of love. It could be argued that the human struggle to untangle this mystery and reduce God to something we can fully understand (read: control) is what launched Adam and Eve straight out of Eden, stumbling and clutching their fig leaves as they went! As St. Augustine told his students while studying the Trinity, “Lest you become discouraged, know that when you love, you know more about who God is than you could ever know with your intellect.”
We tripartite creatures—body, mind and spirit—have received God’s dance steps. When we take God’s hand, and follow in his footsteps, where in the world will our dance with the Trinity take us next? The Shaker dancing song, “Simple Gifts,” reminds us as we join the dance, ‘To turn, turn will be our delight, till by turning we come ‘round right.’ Dancing with God. Wow!!

   e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: May 31 Edition

John 17:20-26

Gospel Lesson for Sunday June 2 2019

 20 “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 “Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. 26I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” 

    We are part and parcel of our family, be it biological or adoptive. We take on many of the attitudes and predilections that we learned early on in that formative petri dish called family. But! Even in the most functional of families, there are few who would dare to claim “We are One” as their family crest. It can be very difficult to live in harmony, let alone unity, on any but the occasional basis.
    Jesus’ prayer that we all might be one is kind of a “back to the future” sort of prayer…one of those “now and not yet” paradoxes that defines so much of our earthly existence. Jesus prayed this prayer as his disciples were still operating as erratically as the Keystone Kops—Judas was mentally plotting his dastardly move; Peter was making sure he could make a quick getaway, while James and John were politicking for the best seats at the last supper. Jesus knew this was a crucial prayer, yet we see today, in any congregation, disunity and an unwillingness to be ‘one.’ Does this mean that even Jesus’ prayers take a very, very long time to be answered? Remember, that prayer was not only for those disciples, but for Jesus’ disciples yet to come…specifically, you and me!
Jesus was praying this prayer in the disciples’ hearing so that they could glimpse the vision of Christian community. Jesus became part of our earthly family even as he drew us into the community of his divinity! What a wondrous mystery. We Christians in our huge ragtag family—cantankerous grandparents, weird uncles, old-maid aunts, and all the crazy rest of the gang—are mystically and eternally one family in Jesus Christ. While we may fight like alley cats around the lesser points of theology and practice, we end up around the same Supper Table, always reminded that the one at the head of that table is our Lord and Savior. As we draw closer to him, we are inevitably drawing closer to each other and to those he came to save.
Bonhoeffer spoke to the unity and disunity of Christian community in his small book Life Together. This sentence grabbed my attention: “He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes the destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.” We can actually destroy the very thing we desire simply because we have our own rigid idea of what our Christian family should look like! It can happen in a congregation and it can happen right in our own homes. The reason Jesus prays for our unity is not so we will be a happy little band of identical believers, but that the world may know that God through Jesus Christ loves this world and seeks to reclaim it for himself. This is his gift to us, that the world will know us by our love, not our doctrinal precision! (John 13:35)
Sit with this prayer a bit. Try to imagine yourself as one of those misbegotten disciples who sometimes didn’t know their right hand from their left. Or imagine Jesus praying right then and there for you and for me, thinking of each of us with all the love he had to give and wanting for us nothing less than what he had with his Father in heaven…complete love; complete unity; complete joy. Christ’s body was broken that his body, the church, might be one.

   e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: May 17 Edition

John 13:31-35

Gospel Lesson for Sunday May 19 2019

 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

    Remember when your parents left the house on a “date night.” There was a babysitter planted on the couch listening to a litany of last-minute instructions. Meanwhile, you were wriggling on that couch begging them to take you with them. Or, at the very least, you were quietly plotting ways to snag a later bedtime or an extra snack! And, like Jesus in John 13:33, they intoned, “Where I am going, you cannot come.”
    All these years later, I read the description of our eternal home and feel not that different from the wriggling toddler on the couch. “…he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more…” says Revelation 21:4. Oh yes, what joy to anticipate it! I want to go there NOW!
And so, your folks walked out the door, their final admonishing words lingering in the air as the door closed. “You kids don’t fight now. Love your brothers and sisters. We love you. Good-bye.”
Jesus walked out the door with the same enjoinder. We know from Revelation that the home of God is among mortals (21:3). The way he dwells in and with us during this mean time is through the strong bonds of love… the kind of love that is not native to us but is infused within us by God’s very Spirit. “They will know we are Christians by our love.” And John brings it home to us this way, “If anyone says they love God yet hates their brother or sister, they are liars!” (1 John 4:20)
Our earthly days find us in a sea of love and hate…love based on various conditions and hatred based many times on those same conditions. We live in what St. Augustine described as two periods of time. One is our day-to-day where love can be scarce on the ground. The other is yet to come in all its fullness where love will be all we ever want or know. This will be where all of us who have experienced or demanded conditional love (whether from those on opposite sides of a social issue or those in a denomination that makes our teeth ache) will be so overwhelmed by the Love we finally see face-to-face that we will be empowered to fall into those ‘arch-enemy arms’ with tears of joy, forgiveness and reconciliation.
Meanwhile, we must ask ourselves how much of that reality we can bring into our daily lives. Jesus said he did not leave us comfortless (John 14:18). It is not as though we don’t love in our own winsome, courageous and sometimes misguided ways. But so often our love faces inward toward our own sense of security and comfort, rather than outward and at great risk as Jesus loved. If we aren’t careful, no one will know we are Christians because our love can become so provisional, so dependent upon believing correctly, acting appropriately, voting with the right political group. Too often we fold our arms across our chests instead of opening them wide to embrace the ‘other.’
Living the ultimate commandment to love one another (John 13:34) is our life’s task, just as it was God’s impetus in sending Jesus to reconcile us to Him. Our attempts may be feeble, bumbling and inadvertently misconstrued, but we carry on because He first loved us. One day he will return for good and after we fall on our knees, we will all fall into each other’s arms. This is how “God so loved the world.”

   e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: May 3 Edition

Acts 9:1-6(7-20)

1st Reading for Sunday May 5 2019

 9Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.6But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” 7The men who were travelling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. 8Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. 10 Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.” 11The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, 12and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; 14and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.” 15But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; 16I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”17So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, 19and after taking some food, he regained his strength. For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, 20and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”

    Being stalked or harassed is downright frightening. It has happened to me and I had to keep returning to prayer mode, not only to ask for God’s protection but for grace to pray for the person inflicting this on me. And that may be one of the harder prayer assignments ever handed out to me by the Lord. Not only that, but many people—Christians included—didn’t even think I should bother! “Just get an order of protection against him” they said; or more strikingly, “ just polish up your ‘357’ and wait for him to try something.”
    Unless I miss my guess, those in all times and places who have been stalked, harassed or terrorized have been more likely to seek protection rather than reconciliation. It was no doubt the same with Saul’s persecution of the early Christians. Recent news reports show a ramping up of the persecution of Christians, which many in the United States have been lulled into thinking is something that only happened long ago and far away. Another assumption is that when Christians were faced with such violence, their righteous stance was simply to bow the head and take the abuse. That is, unfortunately, a romantic view of our sinful nature. The sad fact is that there were many who renounced their faith, even turning in their Christian friends in order to gain favor with their tormentors.
This week’s scriptures give us pictures of two mighty men of faith—Peter and Paul (Saul)—who both had episodes (or, in Paul’s case, an entire career) of turning on Christ and his followers. What draws me so especially to Paul’s conversion experience is not only that it was the gold standard for conversions in my Baptist youth, but it displays for me how completely God will wipe my messy slate clean if I give him even the slightest opening into my life! For three days, Paul was blinded by divine Light and saw nothing through his earthly eyes. That sounds to me like Paul’s “three days in a tomb” where he died to his old life and was re-born into the life he went on to live…traveling over 10,000 miles and no longer persecuting Christians but recruiting them into the kingdom, becoming “all things to all people, that I might by all means save some (1 Corinthians 9:22)!”
The other part of Paul’s conversion story that I love is the presence of Ananias. Every one of God’s children has her or his Ananias. Think about who shepherded you into faith, nurtured you after you arrived or has stepped into your life at a crucial turning point to help you stay God’s course. We need a variety of Ananias figures on our journey of faith. Paul heard a Voice that stopped him in his tracks. Ananias was quite familiar with this Voice and responded as one in relationship does, with a little back-and-forth. He “reminded” God of what a treacherous creature Saul was and wondered what good it would do to walk into the jaws of that lion. But God has a plan for each of his children. Seventh century saint, Maximos the Confessor, said “…God is like a good and loving physician who heals with individual treatment each of us who is trying to make progress.”
Paul and Ananias both heard the Lord telling them to go and, by their obedience, they met each other and the world has never been the same. I am still being converted to forgive any number of “persecutors” whether they have wronged me or someone else. Is there someone that needs your forgiveness in order for both of you to be set free? What new and possibly difficult thing is God asking you to do?

   e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: April 19 Edition

Luke 24:1-12

Gospel Lesson for Sunday April 21 2019

24But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. 2They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they went in, they did not find the body. 4While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.6Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” 8Then they remembered his words, 9and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. 10Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. 11But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.

Happy New Year!

    I know that the celebration of the New Year is an artificial construct. I know it cannot possibly signify anything much beyond the purchase of a blank calendar yet to be filled with the expected and the unexpected happenings of the next 12 months. Yes, it is Easter we celebrate this week. And of course, Easter signifies the ultimate of new beginnings for those who believe.
With each passing year, I begin to face the calendar-designated new year with not a little trepidation. In the latter era of one’s life, there is more of death and loss than the anticipation of new adventures. But Easter is the day that outdoes all the new years’ celebrations and resolutions and hopes and fears. For this event inaugurates the kingdom of God opened for us in grace and glory.
When the women at the tomb were queried about the sense that it made to look for the living among the dead, they had arrived at what the Gaelic folk called a “thin place,” a place where the curtain between earth and heaven has parted long enough for the spiritually alert to be reminded that we are participants in two worlds. And, of course, when the women returned to tell the disciples what they had (and hadn’t) seen, the men thought their entire recitation was nonsense! Good Peter had the courage and the hopefulness of nascent faith to retrace their steps to see for himself and when he arrived, he was also affected by this luminal place and left amazed and changed in ways he had yet to understand.
Birth and death are fraught with “thinness.” Blogger Beth Scibienski wrote,

“… life and death with Jesus remains unpredictable.  Following this man who taught anywhere people were sitting, healed the sick, touched the untouchable, lifted up the poor, called into question those in power, turned the law on its head, and went straight ahead into his death, he surprised them all the time.  Doesn't he still surprise us?  If we were told that Jesus wasn't where we last left him, would we sit idly by or would we run toward mystery?”

    This Easter gospel is our “new year’s” reminder that regardless of what awaits us in our renewed Christian year, the resurrection of our Lord Jesus surmounts, surpasses and surprises us with grace, with the upside-down, table-turning, death-destroying reckless love of God. And the announcement first came from people just like us. Women at the lower end of society’s power structure, and reinforced by the fair-weather disciple whose loyalty was regularly trumped by fear and uncertainty. This is the gospel we need. The gospel that says, “I died and rose precisely because I loved each and every flawed, flailing, feckless one of you. To death and back. All for you.” ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN. HE IS RISEN INDEED. ALLELUIA!

   e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: April 5 Edition

John 12:1-8

Gospel Lesson for Sunday April 7 2019

12Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

   Service and Sacrifice

   It’s a good thing John tells us the motive behind Judas’ remark about wasting resources. Otherwise it might be all too tempting to agree with that old traitor! These days, his disingenuous remark could become a plaque at the entrance to Congress given the collective fear of assisting those who have little or nothing (so we assume) to give back to us.
    Professor Tom Long in an article in The Christian Century talked about John’s gospel style which reflects an understanding that life is “double-plotted.” There is what happens, and there is the meaning of what happens…the mundane houses the holy and eternal within its rough exterior:

“John wants us to go to this ordinary dinner party in Bethany, but not to miss the hint of resurrection we can see in Lazarus. He wants us to hear Judas’s pious speech about caring for the poor but also to discern in those words the treachery that lies in the human heart. He wants us to see Mary not just as hostess but as prophet. He wants us to see her anointing of Jesus not as a mere impulse of indulgence, but as a costly act of worship. Jesus is not merely eating and drinking with friends… he is the lamb at the Passover feast, and John wants us to smell the fragrance of the perfume that fills the house as the aroma of holy death. John whispers between the lines of the story because he wants us to see what is truly happening, and to believe.”

    Mary is pouring out this extravagant perfume of love as a sign that the stench of death is about to be conquered and this man to whom she owes so much (including the restored life of her brother) will be that Conqueror. 
    Mary was one of a select few who apparently believed Jesus’ words about his impending death. And, acting on her belief, she did what so many of us have wished we had done with our loved ones. She gracefully, poignantly, gently told Jesus (without having to say a word) how much she loved him and wanted to comfort him as he drew ever nearer to his earthly end. Mary is our role model here. She made a choice. She could have controlled her feelings and saved her money and just given Jesus a good old Sunday-morning hug. Instead she gave Jesus her all, laying it at his feet. So for us, the question is, what ‘priceless’ attitude, feeling, memory or hurt are you carrying that needs to be broken and poured out at the feet of Jesus? Will it, too, fill the room and your soul with the aroma of love and sacrifice and healing?

   e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: March 22 Edition

Luke 13:1-9

Gospel Lesson for Sunday March 24 2019

13At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? 3No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. 4Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. 7So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ 8He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig round it and put manure on it. 9If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ ”

   Amendment of Life

   The ancients called the discipline of confession and repentance amending our lives. The key is to be reflective and self-aware—with God’s grace—to see the need for it!
    What if you only had one year left to live? Some of us actually do but mercifully (perhaps?), we don’t know it! When we’re young it feels as though we have been given eternal life; being a member of AARP is not even conceivable since we will be ‘forever young.’ I remember living with a sense that all good things lay before me, the world really was my ‘oyster,’ and I had a million-plus years to get done anything I might want to accomplish. Alas. We all know how that ends, don’t we? The older we get, the faster time moves along and the slower we are at catching up to it. It is now (as really, it always was) a matter of priorities and what our hearts value.
In this story Jesus is letting us know what our #1 priority should be… offer ourselves to be pruned and fertilized now before the gardener has no choice but to wield the ax! “Repent now,” Jesus said in Matthew 25:13, because no one (not even Jesus!) knows the day or the hour when the Gardener will put the finishing touches on his garden of delight!
It is so much easier to cling to the merciful part of the story, the part where a year’s reprieve is given for us to get our acts together. It gives us time to do all the things we want to do before—as we often believe—we must give up all the good stuff in order to follow the Lord. But there is always a counterpoint to mercy and that is God’s judgment for those who delay or refuse to give themselves to the One who tends our souls. Events such as 9/11 or mass shootings, plane crashes, auto pile-ups, flash floods or apocalyptic fires cannot be predicted with any certainty; nor do they conveniently align one-to-one with anybody’s guilt or innocence. Beware of gambling with eternal life using only the tokens of mortality that we have been given!
Lent is set aside precisely to focus on the whole process of dying in order to live; of rooting out iniquity to make room for holiness; of counting the days and counting the cost; of turning around in repentance and receiving the waters of Life. Anything you must lop off in the process will go into a compost pile of ‘lessons learned’ which will be able to feed you and those saplings around you now and into eternity! Turn your face toward the Son and allow some divine photosynthesis into your life! With the help of the Gardener, we can produce fruits in keeping with our repentance (Matthew 3:8). Jesus came to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:19). Let us make the very most of his “year” of reprieve!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: March 8 Edition

The Season of Lent: During this five-week season, the emphasis of these reflections will be on the importance of spiritual discipline. Spiritual disciplines have become lost arts. Donald Coggan, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote, “I go through life as a transient on his way to eternity, made in the image of God, but with that image debased, needing to be taught how to meditate, to worship, to think.” Let that be our Lenten focus.

Luke 4:1-13

Gospel Lesson for Sunday March 10 2019

 4Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 1where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. 3The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” 4Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’” 5 Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world  6And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. 7If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” 9 Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ 11and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” 12Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time. 

   Godly Discipline

    It is not an accident that immediately following Jesus’ baptism and, in Luke, the recitation of the genealogy of our Lord, Jesus was led into the wilderness for a forty-day boxing match with Satan. Note to self: Being a believer does not exempt me from a constant barrage of temptations curated precisely to entice and invade my most vulnerable desires.
    I might not have considered “self-control” or “program management” as anything like a spiritual discipline, but Proverbs 21:29 leads me to take another look! “…the upright give thought to their ways.” There is no room for any idea that we can simply get up in the morning, give God a greeting in passing and sail into our day with no spiritual preparation under our belts for the “changes and chances of this life.”
    Jesus’ time in the wilderness, devoid of almost all earthly distractions including food, opened for him the battlefield he was to eventually conquer for us all on the cross. Satan threw a punch, Jesus a counter-punch. He didn’t argue, he didn’t ask Satan if there were any attractive loopholes he could use to justify a bit of compromise. He faced the temptation with the confidence of someone who was in intimate contact with His Father. Jesus, being fully human as well as fully divine was not feigning temptation. He was tempted. Satan knew the stakes as well as Jesus. And in Jesus’ humanity, faced with temptations not to do what he was called to do, Satan may even have had a momentary edge.
    Here is where spiritual discipline comes into the picture for us. For the most part, we know the things that tempt us and we know our besetting sins, i.e., those thoughts or activities that we simply feel have completely conquered us. But grace abounds and God’s strength can be ours. We must find a way to stay plugged into God so that those gifts flow to us when temptation assails. And that means having a plan!
    Pick something that constantly undoes you. Think about the pattern of your temptation and fall. Where are you when you are tempted (perhaps you can find a new place to be); what are your thoughts or your attitudes toward this temptation (remapping your thoughts and attitudes can be a Lenten exercise); what triggers you to “give yourself permission” to act or think in a certain manner (can you unravel the self-justification for what it is)?
    Then you can act to strengthen your ability to stand firm against these devilish attacks. You can adopt a verse or passage of scripture to invoke. You can keep a diary of ways and means of defending against the wiles of the devil. Your “what I will do differently next time” list could save your soul from despair which weakens your resolve and leads to the probability of succumbing to the next temptation. Pastor Brian Erickson once said, “The only vaccine against temptation is obedience.”
    We are being made, re-made, conformed and transformed into the image of God, one conquered temptation at a time. Let the Holy Spirit guide you this Lent to a deeper apprehension of the wiles of the evil one and the manifold graces, gifts and guidance God provides us through His Word, His Church and the allure of sin he allows us to experience. May we have a Holy Lent as we seek a closer walk with our Lord.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: February 22 Edition

Luke 6:27-38

Gospel Lesson for Sunday Feb 24 2019

 27 “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.29If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

   In our splintered American culture, this passage may just provide the greatest Christian challenge we can have to show the world what it looks like to follow Jesus. Tucked into this sermon is what we now refer to as “The Golden Rule.” That also has gotten lost in the thicket of entitlement, self-preservation and outright fear of the others who live among us. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is potentially a humiliating stance to take in this contentious world. And yet, it is the Way of the Cross for the followers of Christ Jesus. It is the upside-down kingdom of undeserved grace. We have been given that grace not to hoard but to distribute as “bread upon the waters” or as we hear it in The Message (Ecclesiastes 11:2):

“Don’t hoard your goods; spread them around.
Be a blessing to others. This could be your last night.”

    That “last night” perspective is useful when we seek to live in an attitude of forgiveness. It is so soothing to the ego to nurse a grudge, like the wounds of an offense and belittle those who offend us. And we are so easily offended while, at the same time, we give our own selves such immense leeway. 
    Living from a standpoint other than forgiveness is living into a cycle of violence. If someone takes your coat, you can take them to court. You can beat them up. You can even just walk away and go buy another coat. But what if living in the “last night” perspective means that we acknowledge that the coat is gone, the person who took it probably really needs a coat, and then sit down and see if there is a way to make that person less poor. As uncomfortable as it sounds, that is how I read this passage.
I am also called to imagine myself at the receiving end of this “do unto others” exercise. How difficult it is to receive sometimes, especially difficult when it feels as though you have become a “charity case.” And so another dimension of our “last night” behavior is, in fact, to treat those who misuse us as charity cases, i.e., as cases needing the caritas of God’s love even more than we do in the moment that their need intersects our lives.
As C. S. Lewis wrote (Mere Christianity), “Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.” Perhaps that’s what it means to be a “practicing” Christian? If so, let’s keep practicing because, with God’s help, practice makes perfect obedience.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: February 8 Edition

Luke 5:1-11

Gospel Lesson for Sunday Feb 10 2019

5Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, 2he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. 7So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. 8But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”9For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; 10and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” 11When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.

   If you fish with Jesus, you don’t know what might end up in your net…or your life! So we read in this gospel passage. Jesus—in signature fashion—invades the space of Simon’s life by sitting down in one of his boats to teach the people who had gathered. As close as Jesus was to his Father, he was probably led there precisely because it was Simon Peter’s boat. What Jesus was really after was Simon Peter himself. He just started with his boat! Then, having made the initial contact, Jesus coyly says, “Hey, Pete! Why don’t we shove off a bit and go fishing?” Or words to that effect. Peter must have been rather annoyed since it was obvious that they had already been fishing and it hadn’t been a good day. Spirit calls to spirit and, because Jesus asked him, Peter agreed that they would try again to fish. We know what happened, of course. A huge catch of fish resulted and Peter had his “come to Jesus moment” where Jesus said essentially, “Now we’re off to catch even bigger fish!” And a disciple was born.  
    What is your fishing story? How is it that you became a disciple of Jesus? How did Jesus appear to you? What did you have to leave in order to follow the Lord?
Notice how Peter recoiled from Jesus because this foray into the deeper waters of faith clearly displayed for Peter his sinfulness. And aren’t we likely to recoil as well when called by Jesus into ministry? ‘Oh Lord, I don’t have that gift. Oh no, that would terrify me! Oh God, please choose someone else (see Moses trying this gambit in Exodus 4:13).’ When we are first confronted by ministry in the name of the Lord, these are the tempting responses. But don’t forget the response of Mary, which is the response most pleasing to the Lord, “Be it unto me according to your word.”
Whether we already have a clear sense of vocation or we’re still awaiting a call that we can hear…we can all continue to fine-tune our spiritual antennas because one day we will find ourselves listening and suddenly, a still, small Voice will impress itself on your heart and you might just find yourself leaving your nets (filled with everything) in God’s hands and following him into the joy of His will.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: January 25 Edition

1Corinthians 12:12-31a 
Epistle Reading for Sunday Jan 27 2019

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.13For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14 Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15If the foot were to say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16And if the ear were to say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many members, yet one body. 21The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”22On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; 24whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, 25that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

    I was privileged to be in the inaugural class on spiritual gifts held this Fall at All Saints. The next time it is offered, please take advantage of it because, as St. Paul said, “Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.”
    Every business, every club, every family, every group of people who gathers together for a purpose has a structure and tasks that require different skill sets, different gifts, different perspectives. Paul is instructing the Corinthian church (and likewise, all churches since) about the gifts and abilities God needs for God’s church to flourish and remain on the right path.
Paul’s use of the body as a metaphor for how the gifts fit together to make a whole reminds us that even the least attractive or least noticed parts of the body can make all the difference in the health of the body. An ingrown toenail on the body of Christ will still cause pain; a neglected, but suspicious growth can cause far worse. And so we can expand this metaphor to include not only the wisdom of paying attention to the whole body of Christ, but recognizing that those neglected people…races, genders, income level, political party affiliation - you name it - may demand even more attention and care than those we see and admire from week to week (vvs. 21-26). This is the hidden work of sanctification in action!
Frederick Buechner so often expresses these difficult concepts in just the right way for our times. Here he does it again (from Peculiar Treasures):

"God was making a body for Christ, Paul said. Christ didn't have a regular body any more so God was making him one out of anybody he could find who looked as if he might just possibly do. He was using other people's hands to be Christ's hands and other people's feet to be Christ's feet, and when there was some place where Christ was needed in a hurry and needed bad, he put the finger on some maybe-not-all-that-innocent bystander and got him to go and be Christ in that place himself for lack of anybody better."

    As vital as it is for us to exercise our gifts within the Christian church, it is equally vital and actually a commandment (see, for example, Matthew 28:19-20) that we be the Body of Christ in the world. It takes all of our gifts to reach all of those Christ came to save. So, prayerfully consider what God has gifted you with and commit with God to share those gifts as you are led. The thing about giving a gift is…you receive one at the same time!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: January 11 Edition

Luke 3:15-17; 21-22

Gospel Lesson for Sunday Jan 13 2019

15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17His winnowing-fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, 22and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” 

    In this age of electronic everything, is there still any reason to memorize anything? After all, the phrase, “Google it” is our go-to response to any question, concern, or curiosity we might have. I know there are certain Lutheran catechisms, scripture verses and creeds that we seek to instill in our children. And I know for a fact that they do not ever leave us, even if the exact wording grows dim. These precious truths become the imprints in our minds and hearts that serve as guardrails and grace notes throughout our lives. 
    And so it must have been with Jesus as he was being baptized by John. To hear your Father speak such words of love, encouragement and identity had to have left a deep impression and must have served as a signpost as Jesus walked his unique journey for the world. “You are my Son,” the heavens proclaimed, “whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22b). These words must have echoed in his mind as he so quickly turned from the waters of baptism into his baptism by fire in the wilderness.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9, after chapter 5’s reprise of the commandments, has always been for me the rationale for all religious education. For children, this education, this enculturation, does not begin in church, but in the home. The Jewish tradition has much to teach us about the formation of our children. “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” To what end? So that we do not forget the Lord who brought us out of Egypt (v. 12) or the One who has brought each one of us out of our own personal kingdom in chains into the great and glorious kingdom of God.
As the brothers and sisters of Jesus, may we hear and remember those words Jesus heard at his baptism. We are God’s children, we are loved, and we have pleased God! There is no other truth, so let us commit to live into this truth. Memorize, remember, and hold in your hearts the covenant of love and grace we have with our Lord. We can Google everything else.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: December 28 Edition


Luke 2:41-52
41 Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. 42And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. 43When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it.44Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. 45When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. 46After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.48When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” 49He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50But they did not understand what he said to them.51Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.

    Do you remember “Dennis the Menace?” If so, you have a taste for some of the paces I put my family through from time to time. I can admit it now because I have come to the conclusion that I was a fairly normal kid, albeit living in somewhat dysfunctional circumstances. 
    Five days ago we sat around a Christmas tree celebrating the birth of Jesus and all the gifts God and family give us. Now our Sunday gospel has him “disobeying” his parents! The deeper truth here is that, unlike me and all the little “menaces” in the world, Jesus was obeying a higher authority by giving God priority. Unlike us, Jesus never “forgot” who his real Father is. Twelve-year-olds today are on the cusp of rebellion where parents know little or nothing! Jesus had reached an age where he could display his ultimate loyalties and remind his mother of her promise to the angel Gabriel at the annunciation of his coming: “Be it unto me according to your word (Luke 1:38).” No parent who commits to a having a child ever knows what that will really mean.
Kahlil Gibran’s classic book, “The Prophet” eloquently describes the poignant reality of the parent/child relationship: “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They came through you but not from you and though they are with you yet they belong not to you.” Mary did remember her vow and began anew to ponder in her heart all of these wondrous and disturbing things. She too was growing in grace and stature toward her own encounter with her Son’s cross.
Verse 52 tells us that Jesus was still awakening to his destiny, maturing as a human child, growing up and away from his parents’ and yes, from our expectations and preferences. He did not come to earth to be a compliant child or the convenient Savior. He came to bring us back to our true home… to be our brother, our friend, our advocate and our redeemer. St. Athanasius reminds us that “He became what we are that he might make us what he is.”
What he said to his parents is just as true for each one of us. We too “need to be in our Father’s house.” But do not forget this! Jesus was obedient to his parents, to earthly authorities, and to human expectations until that obedience ran counter to God’s call on his life. That is the challenge we face each day as we seek to follow his lead into the abundant life that he promised and made manifest on Christmas morning. As we face a new calendar year, can we commit to a renewed obedience?

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: December 14 Edition


1 John 1:3-7
3we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; 7but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

    A week ago, we took a moment to consider the role of discipline in the life of a Christian. Christianity is not a spectator sport—we have to get off our spiritual couches and out into God’s world. Christianity is also not an individual sport (although there is a lot of one-on-ones with our Trainer!). We are God’s first pick for his team, a team that is to go forth into all the world, doing greater things together even than Jesus did while he walked among us! There is no such thing as a Lone Ranger Christian. Even if it does feel sometimes as though we are in a three-legged race at the county fair!
    These past many months, particularly if you have invited the roar of the crowd into your life through social media, you know that there is a profound rift in our culture. It has become a time of character assassination by “tweet.” Civil discourse is mostly hidden, and labeling an entire human person valid or invalid according to their political perspective is the game du jour. Our souls are withering in direct proportion to how deeply we allow this to be our “community.”
Christians have a divine fellowship available to us and we cannot be too careful in what company we travel with along the Way. (The classic allegory of the spiritual journey, Pilgrim’s Progress, makes that all too plain!) And so the discipline of friendship might be added to our list of spiritual disciplines. “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!..for there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore(Psalm 133:1, 3).”
So to choose wisely our companions on the Way is to have the joyous ability to say, as Frodo did to Sam in Lord of the Rings, “I’m glad to be with you, Samwise Gamgee, here at the end of all things.” Otherwise, we must take to heart this cautionary verse in Proverbs (13:20): “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”
“If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another (1 John 1:6-7a).”
Who are your companions on the Way? Do they elicit the joy of the Lord as you travel together? Do you need new traveling companions? Godspeed!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: November 30 Edition

Note: This season, we are taking leave of a strict adherence to the Lectionary in order to present a series on the themes of this anticipatory time in the church year. we pray that these shorter Advent reflections will bless you on your Way.

1How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?    How long will you hide your face from me?  2How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? 3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God! Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, 4 and my enemy will say, ‘I have prevailed;’    my foes will rejoice because I am shaken. 5 But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. 6I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

    Not a road trip went by as a child that I didn’t ask my folks at least once (every ten miles), “Are we there yet?” The anticipation of our destination distracted us from the scenery that sailed by our car windows. We kids were laser-focused on our goal of vacation bliss!
hen there is the image of Charlie Brown beseeching the heavens, “How long, O Lord, how long?” as Lucy stares balefully at him. That kind of waiting is the essence of longsuffering. “When will this be over?” expressed as lament rather than anticipatory hope!
As 2 Peter 3:8 has it, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” Talk about a perspective adjuster! If we are to be patient with these parameters, our longings and desires will need to be transformed. After all, if we take a close look at those things that cause our impatience, we mostly find that our peacelessness stems from not getting what we want, in the way we want it, and when we expect it.
Charlie Brown was actually quoting the first verse of Psalm 13, “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?” This lament from David captures so much of our experience, all too often out of sync with the Lord’s plans, timing and intent. Our Advent task might well be simply to absorb the mind-bending concept of God’s ability to experience a thousand years as a day, even as our days sometimes slog along like a thousand-year struggle.
David’s initial lament ends not with resigned longsuffering but with a humble childlike trust in God’s steadfastness. Even as we wait…for a job, a spouse, a diagnosis, a friend…even as we wait for all of life to unfold, let us practice our faith with David: “I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.”
What in your life are you waiting for right now? Are you letting God’s time be your time? Don’t give up! The Lord has come and will come again both to you and to the whole world—perhaps in a thousand years; but maybe today.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: November 16 Edition


Mark 13:1-8
Gospel Lesson for Sunday Nov 18 2018

As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” 2Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” 3 When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, 4Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” 5Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. 6Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’* and they will lead many astray. 7When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. 8For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.”

   As we near the end of the liturgical year and move toward Advent, we are entering a time when we repeat the story of Christ’s birth and all that this means for us now and at the end of time. We are a people replete with beginnings and endings. Every mother knows that birth pangs herald the advent of new life! We are helping to bring God’s new time to birth with each decision that promotes Christ in the world rather than the forces of darkness. And birth includes pain. As Paul renders this in Romans 8:22-23, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now … while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.” 
    The disciples wanted to understand how they would know when the destruction of the mighty buildings surrounding them would take place.  What would be the signs of this cataclysmic, unthinkable event? Jesus didn’t directly answer their question.  This uncertainty is one of the reasons so many are drawn to versions of “end times” that involve clearly identifiable markers on an apocalyptic timeline.
But we are given certainty in the totality of what Jesus tells us in scripture (and in our hearts as we seek him and listen for his voice). We may not subscribe to an exact timetable of events, but we are able to see history from the end, as it were, rather than strictly from a time-bound perspective. This scriptural grace gives us a heartening perspective on what others see only as dire.  We know that the trials and tribulations of this world are provisional and will, at God’s chosen point in time, come to an end.  It may not be in our lifetime, but Christians have always lived within the tension of the kingdom being “now” and “not yet.” And the end of history is not only destined to be a cataclysmic holocaust; it is the promised restoration and righting of all things, filled with abundance and justice and peace.
Even Jesus in his humanity did not know the exact day and hour of the end of the age; he said only his Father knew.  (See Mark 13:32 or Matthew 24:36.)  Jesus’ warning to the disciples not to be led astray by “false prophets” or others who claim to have the truth becomes equally important for us as we watch and experience various birth pangs: the relentless warring of nations, famines and plagues, and those “storms of the century” that many attribute to global warming, along with the myriad voices vying to explain it all to us in often divergent ways.  
In Matthew 16:1-4, Jesus rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for their ability to be weather forecasters, but their inability to read the “signs of the times.” Every generation—and particularly those who hover near one or the other side of a millennium—harbors a suspicion that the last days are at hand.  Remember Y2K? If we practice viewing life from God’s perspective, we will develop an appropriate sense of urgency about our own responsibility to bring in the Kingdom of God.  I once saw a bumper sticker that aptly stated, “The best way to predict the future is to help create it!”  We know not the day nor the hour, but we need to be working in God’s vineyards as though his harvest were tomorrow.  Because, who knows?  It just might be.
Paul reminded the Romans (13:11-2), “…You know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers.” We are awake; how shall we spend our time?

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: November 2 Edition

John 11:32-44
Gospel Lesson for
Sunday Nov 4 2018
When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.”35Jesus began to weep. 36So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”37But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.” 40Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

   Saints are popularly assumed to be Christians who have risen to greatness in some way. Perhaps they were extraordinary teachers or mentors, had special healing or prophetic abilities, led lives of deep prayer or were set apart by God from the usual entrapments of the world in order to “do something special” for God.
    Many Christians shy away from “sainthood” as these attributes are not currently on their religious resume. And yet, we know that we are all saints. We have it designated in the name of our congregation and we rely on scripture to provide our justification.  The word “saint(s)” is the word used most often in the New Testament to describe the followers of Christ (the word “Christian” was actually a word of derision in the early Church period). People who spend hours mining biblical statistics have noted more than 60 references to saints in the New Testament; 44 in Paul’s writings alone!. In Romans 1:7, Paul referred to all those loved by God as saints or holy people. “Loved by God,” not by any other requirement! We are saints because of Christ’s atonement, not our attainment.
Even so, the church still recognizes and honors specific saints. According to the Augsburg Confession, the term "saint" is used to denote a person who received exceptional grace, was sustained by faith and whose good works are to be an example to any Christian. Lutherans do believe that saints pray for the Christian Church in general, and we honor them by thanking God for them and using them as role models for developing our Christian character. 
Yes, we are saints, thus have the privilege and responsibility of acting like saints!  It always brings me up short to remember the time someone said, “If you were the only Christian a person ever met, what would that person decide about God through you?” 1 Peter 1:15-16 enjoins us to be holy in all we do because God who called us is holy.  We are being restored to the full image of God as we conform ourselves to Him and allow ourselves to be shaped back into the fullness of our original identity as a son or daughter of God. Isaiah 64:8 says “We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”  If we don’t roll off the potter’s wheel for good, He will eventually re-create us completely as whole and holy.
Sunday’s gospel tells the story of Jesus bringing Lazarus back to life… in effect, unbinding him from death. That is exactly what he does for each of us.  He will certainly do it when we die and, even now, as we allow God’s spirit to work in us and on us each day in those ‘practice rounds’ we all have of death and resurrection. He longs to unbind us from the deadly garments of disobedience and rebellion that trip us up and make us fall away from the grace he has given us. But, the shackles of sins done to us can be just as binding and God stands ready to release those death grips as well. Notice in this story that Jesus asked those gathered around the tomb to “unbind” Lazarus. So, saints, we too have a role in the unraveling of death!
On All Saints’ Day, we are given another glimpse of those who have gone before us, described in the book of Hebrews:

“…Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (12:1-3).”

    Who have been great saints in your life? This is their day…and ours!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: October 19 Edition

Mark 10:35-45
Gospel Lesson for
Sunday Oct 21 2018

35 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”36And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” 37And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” 39They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. 42So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant,44and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” 

   The cheek of James and John!  I imagine them standing, arms akimbo, legs wide apart, feet planted firmly, double-teaming Jesus and telling him, “We want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”  On this occasion, those so-called “Sons of Thunder” were certainly living up to their name! They wanted a corner office in the kingdom and didn’t hesitate to ask for it!  What part of “the first shall be last” did the disciples not yet comprehend?
    On one level, who can blame them?  The only sort of power they knew was the Roman version… conquest and intimidation.  Jesus told them that the opposite was true in the kingdom of God.  The disciples might not get their earthly-oriented demand, but they would indeed participate in the “fellowship of his sufferings (Philippians 3:10).” Overlay on the image of James and John the image of Jesus on the cross, with a thief hanging on either side of him.  When Jesus told them they would drink the same cup (of suffering) and be baptized with the same baptism (by fire) as Jesus, it was not idle talk. Herod eventually killed James with a sword, and church tradition has it that his brother John died in exile on the island of Patmos.
William Willimon, a popular speaker, writer and bishop in the United Methodist Church, tells the story of a time when he was in campus ministry at Duke University.  He participated in the baptism of a graduate student from China who became a Christian while at Duke.  He decided to commemorate the occasion by taking pictures.  Willimon recounted that the group was a bit shy and awkward during the picture-taking. The campus minister later told him why they were less than enthusiastic:
 “… now that he’s baptized, his life has been ruined. His parents say that they will disinherit him. The government will probably take away his scholarship. He can’t show those pictures to anybody back home. His life as he knew it is over; he’s been baptized into Jesus.”
Each of us has been guilty of asking God to help us worship our idols, i.e., replacing God with what we really want and then asking him to provide it—even when we are asking for something good. It is completely possible to worship the good rather than God! I am quite thankful to God for showing us the dim-headedness of Jesus’ band of disciples.  It gives me hope. Jesus did not condemn James and John for their audacity; instead he used this teachable moment (one more time) to paint the picture of the unimagined reversal of power that was about to come to fruition with his death and resurrection.  Earthly powers were about to be in thrall to eternal love and the very thing James and John desired would eventually happen...the last will one day be first.
Ever since we chose to “be like God, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:5),” our temptation has been to replace love with power. Henri Nouwen once wrote, “The long painful history of the church is the history of people ever and again tempted to choose power over love, control over the cross, being a leader over being led.” Nouwen also talked about the “downward mobility” that ends at the cross.  But the power of that cross to transform and redeem is immeasurable.
Jesus came not to be served, but to serve (v. 45) and has instructed us about the redeemed ambition his followers develop as we get more acquainted with him: “…for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink (Matthew 25:35-36).”  In order to be a disciple, we must be a servant to all.  Those are the marching orders for a life of true power, authority but, most of all, joy!  The “corner office” is just a distraction from the mansion reserved for us in heaven!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: October 5 Edition

Mark 10:2-16
Gospel Lesson for
Sunday Oct 7 2018

Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.” 5But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 6But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7’’For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh.9Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” 10 Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter.11He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; 12and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” 13 People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” 16And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

    When Moses received the tablets with those ten rules for living together in peace (aka, the Ten Commandments), they were to serve as guideposts and boundaries for acceptable, life-giving behavior for the Israelites. As we know, this set of instructions—while still posted in various courthouse buildings—has lost most of its bite. Just think for a moment how some of these proscriptions resonate in our culture today: You shall have no other gods. (Okay, I don’t really see a need for a god at all, so no problem there.) Don’t take God’s name in vain? (Again, no god? No problem!) Don’t kill. Don’t steal. Don’t bear false witness. Don’t commit adultery. Media participants are immediate witnesses to the fact that at best, these are suggestions, not commandments. The Decalogue may be foundational to our western ethical (if not legal) system, but the context in which these commandments are to be lived out has almost completely disappeared from the cultural landscape.
    When we come now to Jesus’ encounter with the Pharisees around the issue of adultery, we know that adultery was not the real issue. They were trying to trip up this upstart rabbi who was continually throwing spanners into their works! But Jesus, of course, is always a step (or several) ahead of their tactics and responds by reminding them why this commandment was written in the first place…“Because of the hardness of your hearts (v. 5).” And we all are painfully, embarrassingly aware that Jesus could say the very same thing to us. While God intends good for us, we are bent toward evil. We can find 1,001 rationalizations, justifications and obfuscations for why our self-serving behaviors are just fine and, if you squint, really do look like God’s will. The prophet Jeremiah had it right… “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is (Jeremiah 17:9, NLT) ?”
Later (and, as usual), Jesus had to continue to help the disciples who were having their predictably difficult time grasping this piece of Jesus’ ‘kingdom-speak.’ He uses the teachable moment of children seeking to approach him to display for the disciples the remedy for the hardening of their spiritual arteries. Those the disciples wished to turn away, Jesus not only embraced, but enjoined them (and us) to become like them.
Nothing softens the hardened heart like the embrace of a child. But what about the other people we seek in so many subtle and not-so-subtle ways to also remove from our consciousness, if not our country? The reign of God includes the outcast, and when we embrace the outcast before us we, at the same time, embrace the outcast within us…the unaccepted child from a hard-bitten childhood; the battered one who could not stay committed to a union of abuse and neglect; the person who feels like a motherless child or the man without a country. As the Rev. Suzanne Guthrie has written, “Hardness of heart keeps me safe in my place. But that’s another irritant of Christianity. Do you really have a ‘place’ when you follow the man who said, ‘foxes have holes and birds have nests but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head?’ If Christians have a ‘place’ it must be on the prophetic margins of discomfort in empathy with the marginalized.”
Our world is, today, a swirling mass of fear, prejudice, hatred and injustice. Not that things have changed since we all landed east of Eden! But since the Ten Commandments failed to soften our hearts, God tried again. He sent us Jesus. With His Spirit coursing through our spiritual veins, we are suddenly graced with a heart for God, for others and for our own self. His shed blood has removed the plaque of sin and replaced our hearts of stone with ones of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). Any residual hatred or closed-armed fear of “the other” (whatever that means for each one of us) can now be transformed to an open, grace-infused embrace. Jesus modeled it for us by sweeping up those kingdom-seeking children, laying his hands on them and blessing them. Who (and how) can we likewise bless today?

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: Sept 21 Edition

Mark 9:30-37
Gospel Lesson for Sunday Sept 23 2018

30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; 31for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” 32But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him. 33 Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 35He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” 36Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

     “They did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.” I am so aligned with the disciples on this reluctance to hear uncomfortable truth! Jesus had told his disciples before (and would tell them again) that he was to suffer and die but it was not computing… to the point that they just didn’t want to hear it. I wonder if their argument on the road about who was greatest wasn’t about which one of them was greatest, but perhaps was there another prophet—who didn’t feel the need to suffer and die—on whom they should pin their messianic hopes!
    Here Jesus is still in the process of teaching his disciples what they will need to know to carry on in his (physical) absence. Perhaps they had entered the second stage of the five stages of grief—anger—which led to their contentious conversation on the road. (I take Peter’s rebuke of Jesus [Mark 8:33] as stage one: denial!) Apparently, what Jesus wants them to understand right now is that leadership looks very different in his kingdom than in the kingdoms of this world. In God’s kingdom of peace, a little child can lead wild animals around without fear (Isaiah 11:6), just as Jesus asks his disciples to prepare to face and conquer evil in His powerful name.
Choosing a child as the symbol of our response to Christ is very revealing. Children then, as now, are the hope of the future and an expensive, time-intensive, albeit precious, investment in that future! They should be seen and not heard, quip those “sage” adults. Jesus proclaims that they and all the rest of God’s “children”—many of whom we don’t even want to see, let alone hear from—are the very ones he came to earth to bring into his kingdom. He seeks the powerless, dependent, naïve, ill-behaved, adorable or abhorrent ones among us, whether in our first or second childhoods! If we have welcomed, served and cared for the “least of these” said Jesus, we have done these things unto God himself (Matthew 25:40)! Hebrews 13:2 makes this kind of welcoming a great adventure, for who wouldn’t want to “entertain angels!”
We have all known people who can eyeball a roomful of people at a party and hone in on the “rich and famous,” ignoring everyone else. Jesus is letting us know that true leadership—servant leadership—means to go directly to the persons sitting shyly in the corner of the room convinced they arrived at this party by mistake! Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all (v. 35). Those clamoring for power have less chance of entering the kingdom than those who can center themselves in a child-like posture, openly trusting, freely receiving (Matthew 10:13-16).
What Jesus is talking about reminds me of the billboards summoning us to “Start seeing motorcycles.” Start seeing children. Start seeing women (Luke 7). Start seeing those who heretofore have been invisible to us as we have sought status rather than service, power instead of presence. If we cannot see (read: ‘welcome’) those among us who fly far under our social radar, we run the risk of missing Jesus himself. As Mother Teresa put it:

“Sometimes it is more difficult to work with street people than with the people in our homes for the dying because the dying are peaceful and waiting…but it is more difficult when these people are drunk or shouting to think that this is Jesus in that distressing disguise. How clean and loving our hands must be to be able to bring compassion to them!"

    Bonhoeffer wrote, “The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.” Jesus says, “Are you still looking for me? Welcome the children.”

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: Sept 7 Edition

James 2:1-10
2nd Reading for 
Sunday Sept 9 2018

2My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? 2For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, 3and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say,” ‘Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” 4have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?5Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? 6But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? 7Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you? 8 You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 9But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11For the one who said, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘You shall not murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.12So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

     I consider Jesus’ brother, James, and his one canonical book to be a valuable corrective to any view that right belief and great faith cover a multitude of sins.  In fact, it is love that covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).  And love is not recognizable except through actions. We can say “I love you” all day long but our actions do truly speak louder than words.
    James is apparently addressing his remarks here to the equivalent of what we still think of as the middle class, i.e., those who are not considered poor, but who are just “poor” enough to be tempted to curry favor with those wearing the designer clothes and the “bling.” Those, as James puts it in 2:6, who get the big tax breaks and haul others into court to leech even more from threadbare wallets.  Yes, they (and we) are very tempted to make sure the rich notice us while we scurry away from those “others” and seek to make sure the poor (the alien, the addicted…) remain as unseen as possible.  James goes so far as to say that any acts of favoritism belie any faith in Christ (2:1).  
I remember childhood warnings about “stranger danger.” I sometimes wonder if, as we grew up observing and absorbing all manner of prejudice (many put nearly every kind of stranger into the “dangerous” category), we lost touch with our common humanity and our common need for God’s forgiveness and grace.  ‘Xenophobia’ was a word I learned in grade school, a word meaning an intense or irrational fear of people from other countries or cultures. I learned the word, but only much later found the antidote in Christ.  But even with the cure available, the disease lingers.
Favoritism is based on selfishness and fear. The world calls it “sucking up” and we see it everywhere, including within ourselves and even in our Christian communities. Good manners may take care of the “superficials” of life, but any of us can base far too much on a first impression rather than an authentic encounter. God has chosen the weak of this world to shame the strong and foolish things to shame the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27); yet we still want to cozy up to the principalities and powers of this world who only seek our demise.
In this world, we must pass laws to mandate equal treatment.  In God’s kingdom and with the power of His Spirit, the law of love prevails and each of us is and will be seen and treated as the royal sons and daughters of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  As the writer of Proverbs reminds us, “The rich and the poor have this in common… the Lord is the maker of them all (22:2).” In Christ, all artificial categories are tossed out and we have the upside-down-gospel world where the last shall be first and we who lose everything for God’s sake will find it all again…and more besides
S. Lewis wrote in his essay, The Weight of Glory:
“It is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit.

    If, as James says, we see someone in need and all we do is say, “God bless you,” instead of being that blessing, our faith is dead. In the same essay, Lewis also said, “Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.” It is apparent in Ephesians 2:8—10 that we may not be saved by works, but we are surely created to do them for our fellow immortals, lest our faith wither and die from lack of exercise!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: August 24 Edition

John 6:56-69

August 26 

56"Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.57Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live for ever.” 59He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum. 60When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” 61But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? 62Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him.65And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.” 66 Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. 67So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” 68Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

   There have been times when we have had doubts about all sorts of things. Including God. Right? It’s not just me, I’m sure. Recall the worst disappointment in your life. Were you doubt-free then? How about when you had prayed so hard for something and God gave you something else altogether…or perhaps you thought God had nothing to do with it at all. Doubts? You bet. We don’t even have the alleged advantage of seeing God in the flesh like Jesus’ very first disciples did. “Alleged” because it didn’t stop even some of them from bailing because they just couldn’t (or wouldn’t) believe the hard sayings and embarrassing implications of this One who came among them in the name of God. When Jesus saw some of his followers drifting away, he gathered his beloved twelve and asked point-blank if they too wanted to go away. It is an interesting turn of phrase, ‘go away,’ for it alludes to walking on a different path, in a different direction and with someone other than Jesus.
    Jesus knew he was a treasure-trove of hard sayings and counter-cultural head-spinners at cross-purposes with all that seemed to make earthly sense both then and right now. As C. S. Lewis remarked, “If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.” Who among any of us has not—ever-so-timidly perhaps—wondered if there might be less truth to what we’ve been taught than we used to think… or become so tired of not living up to what we know Jesus expects of us and unsure how to continue on this oh-so-narrow path? No, we cannot look at these disciples with anything like disdain, but rather with one question on our hearts. ‘So, what did they decide about Jesus and why?’ And a decision was definitely called for. We cannot be a passive follower of Christ; we won’t last! God has been challenging his people since the beginning: “Choose this day whom you will serve (Joshua 24:15).” While it is imperative that we choose, God has, at the same time, empowered us with the ability to choose so that we don’t even begin to imagine we are accomplishing our own salvation!
We often sing a short hymn during worship that begins: “Lord to whom can we go?” The disciples didn’t choose to stay with Jesus because they were towering spiritual giants or had some sort of gnostic inside track on truth. Peter had enormous struggles throughout the gospel story, not to mention the fact that they all fled Jesus at the end—at least for a time—when their presence would have meant so much to Jesus. No, those who then chose to stay with Jesus were not special but they were committed and they had discovered the one truth to which they would ultimately cling until death… Jesus had the words of eternal life. There was nowhere else to go; no other path led anywhere but back into darkness, deceit, defeat and death. Actually, they couldn’t have gotten away from his Presence if they had tried, as Psalm 139 would have reminded them: “Where can I go then from your Presence?” Where indeed could we go from that Presence that so troubles us at times and, at other times, fills us with overflowing joy?
After all our doubts and temptations and disappointments and rebellions, can we still say, “We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God?” Take heart and listen to Maya Angelou as she gives voice to where some of us might be living right now as we make one sometimes difficult choice right after another to follow the Lord. She said, “I’m trying to be a Christian. I’m working at it, and I’m amazed when people walk up to me and say, ‘I’m a Christian.’ “ I think, “Already? Wow!” Already. Not yet. From the beginning of time. For all eternity. All we have to do is choose God who has already, in His infinite love, chosen us.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: August 10 Edition

Ephesians 4:25-5:2
Epistle Lesson for 
Sunday August 12 2018

25So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not make room for the devil. 28 Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. 29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. 5 1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, 2 and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

   In this passage from Ephesians, Paul is serving up a catalog of practical Christian virtues and urging us to live our lives in this way as a conscious response to what Christ has done for us. This consciousness of our redemption drives a grateful response and purposeful living.  If we feed on Jesus, we will be nourished and sustained by his Holy Spirit and enabled to behave the way Paul is teaching us in this passage. Otherwise, we would read this list and exclaim, “How is any of this possible?” To which God might reply, “I am only asking you to be who you already are, who I have already created and empowered you to be through my Spirit!”
    This is our baptismal reality: to shed the filthy rags of self-righteousness and put on the garments of grace and peace. This is the ‘rubber-hits-the-road’ dimension of being reborn and knit together into the body of Christ, only possible because God first forgave us and we, in turn, accepted that forgiveness. Thus, we are enabled to discern Paul’s call to holy living not as an impossible catalog of virtuous behaviors but as promises, as gifts rather than restrictions, as graces rather than goals. This is what it looks like to live the Christ-like life!
At first, trying to imitate God feels like wearing ill-fitting clothing. With practice, we will suddenly discover we are wearing our favorite outfit! We are summoned to put on our new identity, to “act as if” until it is no longer an act! (See Ephesians 4:22-24a as well as 1 Corinthians 15:31) We know this isn’t our natural inclination, which is why God has situated us in a community of like-Spirited folks where we can practice new behaviors, becoming spiritual parents, mentors, coaches and role models in the Faith. Our childhood imitations of our parents are reprised by imitating Christ to learn to be a child of God’s! Instead of learning polite manners at the family dinner table, we are learning how to eat and to serve at God’s banquet table!
Our biggest imitation overhaul may be how we handle anger. It is a troubling condition for most Christians. Some of us have even been taught that anger is a sin. But Scripture tells us that God himself gets angry; he may be slow to get there, but he has and will display righteous anger (Psalm 103:8) at violations against his infinite love. Anger is a feeling like any other, but one that we must harness and deal with or it will fester and infect us with physical and emotional illnesses and tatter the body of Christ with rancor. Nursing anger is not so different from fanning flames or sticking a finger in your own eye! If you’re angry, deal with it before day’s end! The Holy Spirit is grieved when anger crowds God’s love out of our hearts (Ephesians 3:17).
Christians have managed to promote “niceness” to the level of a Christian virtue; possibly to avoid the anger we aren’t sure how to handle! The consequent reluctance to be “unpleasant” results in anger harbored and festering in our hearts and in our relationships, creating a life of détente rather than one filled with the peace of God. And what makes us angry? Everything and everyone not yet forgiven within us. Anger is a secondary emotion arising out of our hurts, grief and pains, sometimes so deeply embedded that we don’t even connect them to what is currently triggering our anger.
Forgiveness may be the hardest work we do, but forgiveness is the only antidote to anger’s poison. The first step toward acquiring a forgiving spirit is to recognize how very much we ourselves have been forgiven. If we refuse to forgive (or refuse even to work toward a willingness to forgive), we are the ones who suffer the consequences. “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us,” we pray each week. Do we mean it?
Let’s pray for courage to be who we are, live in God’s love, and get ready for what God has in store!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: July 27 Edition

John 6:1-21

Gospel Lesson for 
Sunday July 29 2018

6After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias.  2A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. 55When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming towards him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” 6He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” 8One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” 10Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all.11Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” 13So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. 14When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”15 When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself. 16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, 17got into a boat, and started across the lake to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18The lake became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the lake and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. 20But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”21Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land towards which they were going.

    The world hunger statistics for 2016 are staggering. Here are a few mind-numbing figures to ponder: 7,665,000 people die every year from hunger. 1,250,000 of them are children. 21,000 people will die of hunger today at a rate of one every 3.9 seconds. I won’t even trouble you with the number of people starving and suffering from malnutrition at this moment. And Americans, with all of our food-related health problems, still manage to throw away a good $165 billion in food each year.  0
    Notwithstanding the fact that world hunger is a bit more complicated than simply donating a few dollars to some centralized agency, it does make me wonder if we use Jesus’ words, “The poor you always have with you (John 12:8, Matthew 26:11, Mark 14:7)” as an excuse to ignore their plight!  Being good Americans, of course, we all struggle to balance ‘American rugged individualism’ with our responsibilities to each other.
The disciples, and Philip in particular, are no different than we moderns are when it comes to having difficulty imagining beyond our status quo.  For Philip, there was no earthly way that they could feed that crowd with so little food.  Just simply no way!  And yet, Jesus, in his compassion and abundance, had a different vision.  With the help of his disciples who, in effect, acted as deacons for this Passover/Eucharistic meal, all were fed with leftovers to spare. In a world where scarcity and fear dominate the world’s approach to most things, this miracle is stunning in its display of God’s largesse. And here, too, we see how God employs his children to “distribute the miracle!”  
The entire Gospel of John focuses us on abundance as Jesus’ gift to us, whether it is the wine at the wedding in Cana or the bread recounted here.  Many believe in a God of abundance, but often live as though it is entirely appropriate to hoard their goods against some dark day ahead. That is not the Gospel and it certainly doesn’t attract anyone to Christ.  Frederick Nietzsche’s influence might have been profoundly different if he hadn’t had experiences with Christians that led him to remark, “Christians will have to look more redeemed if people are to believe in their Redeemer.”
We are bombarded on every side with the relentless temptation to believe we need things that we really and truly do not need.  We may decide we want them, but only because advertisers “have our number!”  So, by the time we wade through all the static recommending all the false needs, our need for God is perhaps the last thing we realize. A “still, small voice” is hard to hear underneath all the voices clamoring for our dollars and our souls. 
When the crowds realized what had just occurred—their miracle meal—they began to chase after Jesus with the intention of making him their king right on the spot!  After all, who wouldn’t want a miracle worker as their sovereign who could feed them so effortlessly? But Jesus was holding out for more—to be the Bread of Life (eternal life)—and so he fled from their short-sightedness, perhaps so that they would have a chance to reflect more deeply on what they just had experienced.  
When we face something in our lives that seems impossible, perhaps we can remember how Jesus tested Philip (read: each of us) to give him an opportunity to learn something more about himself and about the Lord.  Someone once said, “A test is used as much to reveal the student to the student, as the student to the teacher.”  Perhaps when Philip saw the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 his faith was expanded and his understanding of Jesus’ ministry was made clearer.  The next time we are overwhelmed with a seeming impossibility, may we look around with a keen eye because Jesus is always waiting to make his presence known where we least expect it. He loves to feed us with holy surprises!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: July 13 Edition

Mark 6:14-29

Gospel Lesson for 
Sunday July 15 2018

14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some were saying, “John the baptizer has been raised from the dead; and for this reason these powers are at work in him.” 15But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.”16But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”17 For Herod himself had sent men who arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because Herod had married her. 18For John had been telling Herod, “‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, 20for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he protected him. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him. 21But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee. 22When his daughter Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it.” 23And he solemnly swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” 24She went out and said to her mother, “What should I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the baptizer.” 25Immediately she rushed back to the king and requested, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” 26The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her.27Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, 28brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl. Then the girl gave it to her mother. 29When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

   There are so many parallels between what happened to John and what happened to Jesus.  The key resemblance is their courage and commitment to speak truth to power. Both initiated their ministry with almost the same message: “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is near (See Matthew 3:2 and 4:17).”  And it is even more interesting to note that both Herod and Pilate were fascinated with John and Jesus respectively while, at the same time, they were very upset and frustrated by these men.  As Mark 6:20 has it, “When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed; and yet he liked to listen to him.”  This verse is an indication that the Spirit was at work in Herod, but he had not yet allowed the Spirit to have its perfect work with him. John had made it clear to Herod that marrying his brother Philip’s wife was not a good thing and it was said that his wife seethed with rage over John’s pronouncement.  See Mark 15:1-15 for a similar dynamic (different circumstances) with Pilate and Jesus.  Truth does have consequences. 
    No one knows if Herod complied with his wife’s desire to behead John because he was drunk or because he thought he would lose face with everyone who had heard him make an outrageous promise to his step-daughter, a promise that his wife took advantage of to get rid of the moral voice of John in her life. Whatever the reason, the expediency of getting rid of John to further marital harmony didn’t work out so well for Herod.  The text for this Sunday begins with news about Jesus whom Herod decided must be John the Baptist raised from the dead.  Clearly, what he had done continued to weigh on his mind and heart.  We don’t know if his wife’s conscience engaged or not.
Herod’s story would have been completely different if he had taken John’s message to heart instead of simply listening to him like he was a religious curiosity.  Yes, there had been no prophets of God for about four centuries, so John was a unique voice. But the voice was aligned with all previous prophetic utterances and he was ultimately treated as so many of the prophets were treated. For Herod, as for us sometimes, the concerns and relationships of this world overshadowed the ultimate relationship he should have been cultivating with God.  And so, John’s voice was silenced.  Except that it wasn’t.  John’s prophetic presence continued as a backdrop to everything that was to come.
In the Old Testament (2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12-19), we read about another kind of dance altogether! You might call it a liturgical dance because David was dancing in joyful abandon before the Lord wearing perhaps even less than Herod’s daughter! David was dancing along with the entire house of Israel because they were bringing the Ark of the Covenant into the city of David, an ark that brought life to the people but death to those who neglected to take it seriously! In the midst of such utterly high and holy ceremonies, the people of Israel were so filled with joy that dancing was the natural result!  Today, particularly in church, if we feel that urge, we cross our legs and sit on our hands until it passes and we can return to pious quietude.  I imagine the Lord of the Dance is hoping that we would rather choose to gambol before him like innocent children or frolicking lambs. 
We have two dances set before us in these biblical stories… a dance of joyful, holy abandon before God or a dance of seductive manipulation and death to satisfy the lusts of the flesh. It is wise, therefore, for us, God’s children, to choose our dance partners with great care.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: June 29 Edition

2 Corinthians 8:7-15

Epistle Reading for 
Sunday July 1 2018

7Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you—so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.8 I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. 9For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. 10And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something—11now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. 12For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has—not according to what one does not have. 13I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between 14your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. 15As it is written, ‘The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.’

   There are those faithful who believe that we must assure salvation for someone before helping with their temporal needs. Other Christians believe that by helping with someone’s needs we are opening them to the Gospel message. These two vantage points have remained in tension in the Christian church in America for decades.
    This week’s passage from Paul in his second letter to the church in Corinth is a follow-up to an ongoing need in the Jerusalem church.  Paul is encouraging surrounding communities to engage in the sort of divine generosity that they have already experienced in Christ and, in this way, to display their faith for all to see.  Paul is calling on the church to share freely out of its abundance as witness to the grace it has been given.  Someone once penned this fitting acronym: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense = GRACE.
It is hard not to see our country as one huge rich man, outrageously affluent, who has decided to worship mammon. Matthew 19:24 reminds us all that "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." Americans have reached “system overload” about the cognitive dissonance between our abundance and the world’s travail; one can only see so many traumatized children, mud huts or bomb-blasted towns on television and the internet before the heart hardens and the mind says, “No more!”  “Live simply that others may simply live” is a statement variously attributed to Gandhi or Mother Teresa, but whoever coined the term could have no more accurate target than America and American Christians. We are the precise people to whom much has been given and, therefore, from whom much is expected.
“Consider the lilies of the field” (Matthew 6:28) remains a benchmark for each of us as uber-consumers. We are not called (in this passage at least) to “sell all” and give to the poor.  Here Paul is just talking about simple balance within the Christian community so that “the one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little (2 Corinthians 8:15).”  Who we are in Christ (i.e., his heirs) is what determines what we have on earth and how we steward it. Yes, the word is “steward,” not “own” because all things in heaven and on earth belong to the Lord; we are to be the guardians of all of that…earth, animals and each other.  Ownership is provisional at best; it helps us order our communities, but it is not supposed to be our goal. 
He or she who has the most toys, not only doesn’t “win,” but has slid into a fundamentally disobedient stance to God and God’s grace.  We are to be conduits of generosity, not bottlenecks. We are given abundance so that we might also give abundantly (see 9:8). And the giving is of ourselves, not only our goods, lest this be mistaken as simply an issue of dollars and cents.
When God provided manna in the wilderness (see Exodus 16), these same principles applied.  It was provided for each day (“give us this day our daily bread”) and when anyone attempted to hoard it, it turned to rot.  With all the advanced ways to “preserve” things, we may not notice the rot right away, but that rot begins at a soul level before it hits our pantry! Walter Brueggemann once wrote, “When people forget that Jesus is the bread of the world, they start eating junk food.” When the Hebrews went from having their needs satisfied to demanding their wants also be satisfied, the Psalmist recounts that God “sent leanness to their souls (Psalm 106:15).”
According to chaos theory, small changes in one place can yield massive changes elsewhere.  It’s called “the butterfly effect” because the famous theoretical example is of a hurricane's formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings several weeks before.  Christians can foster that same butterfly effect in our churches and in the world with the smallest of adjustments to our lifestyle for the sake of the Kingdom. As Peter said in Acts 3:6, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you.”  What adjustment can we make?

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: June 15 Edition

Mark 4:26-34

Gospel Lesson for 
Sunday June 17

26 He also said, “The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come.” 30 He also said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? 31It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” 33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; 34he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples. 

    My grandma used to talk about “volunteer” plants and trees that would sprout here and there on her property.  She explained that the birds had inadvertently scattered those seeds as they flew from tree to tree with a beak full of food. These new plants didn’t necessarily appear in an expected location (no formal gardens at grandma’s house!). I visualized this as I read Mark’s Parable of the Growing Seed.
    As each of us does the work of the sower (scattering the seeds given us according to our gifts), the wind of the Spirit will send those seeds exactly where they need to be, regardless of our best-laid schemes!  Our part in this process is to be sure we are scattering those seeds, i.e., following the will of our Lord day-by-day so that our words and actions draw others toward God.  And as we go about our days, we “sleep and rise” while the seeds take root and grow.  It is not our role to hover over the seeds we have scattered as a young child might do, pulling up the new shoots to see if the vegetables are growing. We are not to fret about the “fruits of our labors” but to allow the Spirit to do the work of implanting the seeds into the hearts of men and women because that is God’s work to do.  God asks us to participate with him, but we are not “in charge” of the process, nor could we be in our finitude and short-sightedness. As the parable says, we don’t know how the seed grows, only that it will.
Here is how Luther handled Mark 4:26: “After I preach my sermon on Sunday, when I return home, I drink my little glass of Wittenberg beer and I just let the gospel run its course.”
We have been enjoined to be rooted and grounded (Ephesians 3:17; Colossians 2:7), then commissioned to scatter seeds of faith, love, hope, forgiveness, mercy and grace, showering the whole endeavor with prayer. In our age of ‘instant everything’ what a profound reminder that the conversion of a soul takes time! God’s time, not ours.  It is God who created the seed that we broadcast and only God can properly till the soul’s soil to bring that seed to life in each of our hearts.  
    But we do get to participate in the harvest!  Eventually, the growth that has happened within the hearts and minds of those around us will begin to be seen and we have then (to mix the metaphor to a fare-thee-well!) the glorious role of shepherding, discipling and be-friending the new growth, the re-born in the family of God…sharing the milk of salvation with babes in Christ as we once were (1 Peter 2:2). Many times, we are harvesting where another one planted (John 4:37).  Likewise, we may not see the direct fruits of our own labors during our lifetime.  This is yet another dimension to the mystery of being part of the Body of Christ.
    As we labor with faith and confidence in our God-given vineyard, we can join the apostle Paul as he proclaims, “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: June 1 Edition

1 Samuel 3:1-10 (11-20)

Old Testament Reading for 
June 3

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread. At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; 3the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” 5and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down.6The Lord called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” 7Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy.9Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. ’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 11Then the Lord said to Samuel, “ See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle. 12On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13For I have told him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. 14Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering forever.” 15 Samuel lay there until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. 16But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” He said, “Here I am.” 17Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also, if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.”18So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. Then he said, “It is the Lord; let him do what seems good to him.” 19 As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the Lord.

    During a chapel address in my college days, one of my theology professors caused an uproar among students and faculty when he challenged us to respond to the currently popular lyrics of a song sung by Peggy Lee entitled “Is That All There is?” Here is the refrain:

“Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is.”

    It would have been scandalous enough if he had been promoting the idea of breaking out the booze on this teetotaling campus or dancing in this ‘no social dancing’ sub-culture. But that wasn’t his point. He was asking us to reflect on the song’s title because at the time he himself was experiencing a spiritually dry season and God’s voice had grown particularly faint. His chapel address was as much a call for help in discerning God’s voice again as it was a questioning of God’s existence. This was also the era when the “death of God” movement was rumbling through the theological community. Add to that the upheaval of many American cultural norms in the 60s and the picture is painted; God’s voice was elusive, if not completely abandoned.
    Things aren’t so very different today as we reluctantly identify our society as post-Christian and wring our hands over the “graying of the Church.” Samuel’s call comes in the context of a culture where “All people did what was right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25).” We are experiencing a cultural decline in Christianity in the West even as the movement of the Spirit has exploded in the “Two-Thirds World.” In this way, we can view this passage from 1 Samuel as a tale of old Eli… senses in decline, giving way to young Samuel who will become the conduit for God’s voice once again being heard in Israel.
This passage begins with a verse that my college professor would have identified with: “The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread (v. 1).” In fact, people were not really listening to God in those days and so God was not doing much talking! God is all about relationships and it is no accident that silence has often been viewed as a form of divine judgment. Israel was headed for disaster if it did not begin to seek God’s voice. (See these few passages for examples of how God deals with those who stop listening: 1 Samuel 28; Psalm 74:9; Isaiah 29:9-14; Micah 3:6-7; also Proverbs 29:18).
As blogger Daniel Clendenin wrote, “It's a chilling thought to imagine that God might grant humanity's request for autonomy, that He could honor our insistence that He leave us alone, or that He would stop speaking as a consequence of our not listening. Perhaps His last, terrifying word to us might be, ‘I have answered your prayers and now grant you the horrible freedom you have craved. Since you are so disinterested as not to listen, I will no longer speak. From now on, the only voices you will hear will be your own.’”
But thanks be to God! We are loved and we are called (Romans 8:29) and, when we are faithful, we do try to listen. Samuel answered his call with the help of his master Eli. And Christ came to give back to us the ability to answer our call. We have been baptized into the life and call of God; yet sometimes the call is drowned out by the exigencies of our lives, and his voice can blend into voices that veer us off God’s path. May we attune our ears, sharpen our eyes and align our hearts anew to the voice of God in our lives because God is patiently listening for our voice to say, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: May 18 Edition

Acts 2:1-21 &
Romans 8:22-27

2nd Readings for 
May 20

Acts 2:1When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. 5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.7Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? 9Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” 12All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.” 14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: 
17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,  and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. 18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. 20 The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. 21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ “

Romans 8:22 "We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

    Tertullian, an early church father, is famous for saying, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”  On Pentecost Sunday, we are awash in red which, of course, also symbolizes the tongues of fire which danced on the heads of all present in the upper room when the Spirit came upon them in power. Jesus had asked the disciples to remain in the city until this happened and they obeyed (Luke 24:49).  Their patience and their obedience allowed God to begin the next chapter in his story of redemption and renewal!  
    And I’ll bet those bewildered ones were stunned by the immensity of what happened.  Everyone was “lit up” by the Spirit as though drunk on “spirits,” hearing, speaking to and understanding those of every tongue and nation represented on that day when the ‘Tower of Babel’ was razed. The very breath of God sailed into that room and exhaled new and eternal life into those awaiting it, with (might I say it?) bated breath! Even as God breathed life into Adam, so again, He breathed new life into those who would obey him and share with others their witness to this new and abundant life.
The Holy Spirit (Advocate, Comforter, Counselor, Sanctifier, Intercessor…) still comes to us even as God lives within us.  As Paul says in Romans, “…the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now… (8:22).”  We have been given God’s Spirit and yet we are still earth-bound, subject to “the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to (Shakespeare, Hamlet’s soliloquy).” And so we live a paradoxical life.  On the one hand is the hope of our salvation and, on the other, the trials and tribulations we both experience and observe in our fallen, struggling world.
But Paul proceeds to give us confidence when he says, in Romans 8:26, “...the Spirit helps us in our weakness.”  We may be bowed down by pain; we may have an empty tank of hope or patience at the moment, but God’s Spirit is interceding for us with prayers that are truer and more needful than anything we can come up with on our own.  He does, indeed, know us better than we know ourselves and wants better things for us than we can ever imagine. We are never alone; we always have God’s Spirit praying within us and we have the church universal, as well as the church triumphant rooting for us and standing with us. Whether we always see it or not; we can count on the truth of it. “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7),” so that from our baptism by water to our baptism by fire, we will grow up into the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).
Why, then, does it seem as though the tongues of flame have been reduced to a flickering light and the winds of the Spirit have calmed to an almost eerie stillness? When the Spirit came upon them in that room so long ago…that place where they had waited until the Advocate (or Counselor) arrived (John 15:26), the first thing they did was speak! They were infused with the ability to tell the Story to all and sundry, using whatever language would lay bare the hearts of their listeners! Proclaiming the Good News became the natural next step when God’s Spirit blew through the door! We have been given our voice and the breath of God to speak about God’s deeds of power (Acts 2:11b). And, we can just as easily quench the fire of God’s Spirit by keeping our mouths shut.
The anointing of the Spirit has bestowed gifts for each of us to steward. So, on this Day of Pentecost celebration, let us set our sails to follow the wind of the Spirit, take a deep, Spirit-filled breath, and proclaim Him to the world in word and deed!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.


Weekly e-Devotion: May 4 Edition

John 15:9-17
Gospel Lesson for 
Sunday May 6 

9 "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. 12 ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.”

    “If you keep my commandments,” Jesus said, “you will abide in my love.” He also said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11:30).”  And, in John, we read how obeying God is the key to our most profound joy and abundant life. This is the kind of obedience that reaps rich rewards, not the kind that is the result of soul-killing subservience or robotic adherence to a set of rules. Galatians 6:2 enjoins us to “bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”  And so the “labors of love” that arise out of our obedience to Christ are not a burden, but a great and satisfying joy. This is the divine exchange…God’s life for ours…for us and for the life of the world.  
    Friends might have some rules of engagement, but rules are superseded and adjusted by mutual regard and respect. Jesus calls us his friends, of all things!  We are the friends of God Almighty! According to religious historians, John’s readers would have recognized friendship as the highest form of love!  In C. S. Lewis’ book, The Four Loves, there is a passage about the dignity and lofty nature of friendship:

“ Lovers are always talking to one another about their love, friends hardly ever about their friendship. Lovers are normally face-to-face, absorbed in each other; Friends, side by side, absorbed in some common interest. Above all, Eros (while it lasts) is necessarily between two only. But two, far from being the necessary number for friendship, is not even the best. And the reason for this is important. ... In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. ...Hence true friendship is the least jealous of loves. Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend. They can then say, as the blessed souls say in Dante, ‘Here comes one who will augment our loves. For in this love "to divide is not to take away.’ ”

    We are to love others as Christ has loved…the tax collectors, the outcast Samaritans (insert contemporary marginalized group here), the leprous, the prostitutes, the ever-failing disciples (that would be us!), the constant stream of enemies, both personal and, these days, political. How do we do this? “Imitate God like dearly loved children. Live your life with love, following the example of Christ, who loved us and gave himself for us (Ephesians 5:1-2).”  Real love and true obedience are two sides of the same Christian coin. Sacrificial acts arising out of our own self-interests are typically burdensome and become toxic soil in which resentments flourish. Those acts are obedience to something other than love. 
    But each seemingly small sacrifice of our ego, our time, and our cherished priorities bears eternal fruit that we may never see or, if we do, the fruit might seem small indeed.  But from God’s vantage point, that fruit has an entire vineyard’s worth of value to him, to the recipient, to those who might see or experience benefits from that work and, of course, to us as well as it brings us deeper into Who love is and how love is experienced.
The Dalai Lama tells the story of a Tibetan monk who, when asked what he feared most while in prison, responded, “I was afraid I might lose my compassion for my torturers.” If we cannot fathom loving this radically, we can use the prayer of martyred Archbishop Oscar Romero as he faced his inevitable assassination: “I can’t. You must. I’m yours. Show me the way.” Amen.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: April 20 Edition

John 10:11-18

Gospel Lesson for Sunday April 22 2018

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. 14I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.16I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”

   Jesus wants us to know him as the Good Shepherd. The responsibilities of a good shepherd include feeding and watering, grooming and shearing, delivering lambs and, of course, guiding, leading and protecting the flock. From that we can deduce that a bad shepherd would neglect the care and feeding of his sheep, allow them to go hungry and thirsty and to appear bedraggled and dirty.  A bad shepherd would not care enough to protect the sheep from predators and would lead them into anything but the “still waters” of Psalm 23. 
    So much of scripture extends the metaphor of sheep and shepherds as archetypes of God and his people.  It was a readily identifiable way to communicate their relationship with the Almighty in that ancient time. Today, we find it quaint and think mostly of pastoral scenes from art history class. Ironically, “pastoral,” as a mode of literature, art or music, is sometimes described as one in which the author or artist employs various techniques to place our complex life into a more simple setting. To me, that is a gospel way to see pastoral imagery!  Christ is giving us not only an abundant life, but ah, a simpler one. Good news times two!
The early readers of John would have had a rich context in which to place Jesus as shepherd, notably David, the shepherd king, and the Psalms, as in this week’s Old Testament reading, Psalm 23. However, their understanding of shepherd was not without contradictions.  Shepherds lived on the periphery of society and were a rather disheveled, sometimes even unscrupulous bunch… grazing their sheep on someone else’s land, for example. In other words, given a choice, sheep would no doubt choose a good shepherd over a bad one.  We must then ask ourselves if we have made the same choice!
Yes, we claim to follow Christ and, yet, we also follow many other shepherds, those wolves in sheep’s garb who, in fact, seek to lead us very far from Christ. We all too often “follow the money” in our pursuit of happiness and security rather than believing that God, in Christ, will provide our every need. (See 1 Timothy 6:10 for how this plays out!)  I do not mean that we sit back and passively wait for all things needful to land in our laps; rather, the pursuit of money should take a back seat to the pursuit of God.  To reverse that is to lose both God and any “rich,” abundant life, regardless of our apparent “success.”
The great divide between those ersatz shepherds (see Ezekiel 34:2-6 for a vivid description of these false, misleading shepherds) and the Good Shepherd is this one thing: Jesus laid down his life for us wayward, easily distracted sheep.  Unconditional, profoundly unselfish, and indiscriminate love for each one of us—regardless of what “flock” he finds us in—is how we recognize our true shepherd.  I remember the old RCA Victor logo of the dog peering into the “speaker” of an old gramophone with the tag line “The Master’s Voice.” That dog, like the sheep in God’s pastures, recognized his master’s voice and patiently sat down to listen to it.  Our Shepherd has laid down his life for his sheep, for us.  He has fed us with spiritual food, given us the waters of life, shorn from us all vestiges of sin, made us truly “whiter than snow,” and now leads us into all truth and empowers us to be imitators, to be good shepherds for others…whether we are teachers, pastors, friends or parents! The hireling will take his money and run; the good shepherd will spread the wealth of God with any who have need (1 John 3:18).
This week’s Gospel describes our Good Shepherd. This week’s Epistle (1 John 3:16-24) describes his flock! God himself is seen in the outcast Samaritan, the dubious shepherd, the stranger with nowhere to lay his head and, then, the sacrificial lamb. We would do well to be on the lookout for these kinds of characters because, when we listen very closely to them, I think we will hear our Master’s Voice.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.


Weekly e-Devotion: April 6 Edition

John 20:19-31
Gospel Lesson for 
April 8 2018

19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. 

   Those who have traveled the road of Christian spirituality for a long time are mostly of the opinion that the road is ultimately easier to traverse if you allow doubt its rightful role in the process. If you journey without ‘doubt’ as one of your navigational tools, you will be subject to taking any set of directions literally and stubbornly, and that might just land you in a ditch—or worse! Without allowing the full range of normal human reactions to incredible events (doubt, as much as wonder and joy), we are much more likely to fall for all manner of “fake news” even on the religious front! 
    I have thanked God more than once for the inclusion of Thomas’ story in the gospels, especially having grown up in a religion of black-and-white certainties. There is nothing more death-dealing than a set of ‘rights and wrongs,’ ‘shalts and shalt nots’ that allows no shadow of doubt, nuance of meaning… or even room for God’s Spirit to intervene. It is no sign of weakness to admit that we all doubt from time to time. It is closer to a sign of deepening wisdom. We’ve all experienced it; one day our faith can be robust and invigorating and the next day…whomp! Yesterday’s certainties are fodder for today’s doubts and uncertainties.
Our illusion that those great exemplars of the saints of God could not have doubted has been repeatedly shattered by simply reading their memoirs. C. S. Lewis had great doubts as his wife lay dying of cancer; Mother Teresa had a virtual backdrop of doubt as she went about doing good year after year; St. John of the Cross spoke of the dark night of the soul, giving expression to many who might otherwise have despaired. Martin Luther doubted. A lot!  
Anfechtungen is the German word Luther employed to describe those spiritual attacks that he said “kept people from finding certainty in a loving God.” What Luther did with these repeated seasons of doubt was to turn them into opportunities of grace, to choose to fall back into the arms of his Father and rely on God’s Word alone. Instead of allowing any complex of feelings and ill thoughts to defeat his faith, Luther purposely re-focused and re-centered his attention on the eternal God. Luther also used distractions (including a couple tankards of ale!), Christian fellowship and the perspective-adjusting, curative powers of nature to restore him to his humanity and to remind him of God’s true presence even as he felt most keenly God’s apparent “absence.”
And by all accounts, Luther had some rather tortuous and prolonged bouts with doubts about his faith - his standing in Christ, his eternal reward, even whether God was still listening to his prayers - to the point that his friend, Philip Melanchthon, said his terrors became so severe that Luther almost died! That is truly wrestling with one’s demons! And yet that was exactly the period during which he wrote “A Mighty Fortress is our God!”
The Reformation could be said to be the result of Luther’s doubts as much as his faith because his doubts about his ability to please God through his own efforts resulted in the realization that it was only because of God’s gift of grace through his Son Jesus that any of us become righteous! And what an abundance of grace and mercy was unleashed through Luther’s struggles with his doubts! In the midst of the inevitable periods of spiritual dryness and discouragement that are part and parcel of the human condition, may we like Luther…and like Thomas…seek our assurances from the God who has already so richly blessed us and who (as Isaiah 49:16 tells us) has engraved our names on the palm of his hand!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.


Weekly e-Devotion: March 23 Edition

Mark 15:1-39
Gospel Lesson for 
March 25 2018

As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. 2Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He answered him, “You say so.” 3Then the chief priests accused him of many things. 4Pilate asked him again, “Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.” 5But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed. 6 Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. 7Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. 8So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom.9Then he answered them, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. 11But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. 12Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13They shouted back, “Crucify him!” 14Pilate asked them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him!” 15So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.16 Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort.17And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. 18And they began saluting him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. 20After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.21 They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. 22Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). 23And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. 24And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take. 25 It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26The inscription of the charge against him read, ‘The King of the Jews.’ 27And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. 29Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also taunted him. 33 When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ 35When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.” 36And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. 38And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”

    Not unlike Hamlet did Jesus “…suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” as he experienced the fickle nature of the humanity he loves so much.  He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, the ironic conquering hero, with shouts of “Hosanna” (transliterated: “save us”) ringing in his ears; shortly thereafter came the cry, “Crucify Him” as they draped him in purple and mocked him with the title, “King of the Jews” because this was in no way the kind of King or savior they wanted or were expecting.  Nor, left to our own sin-ravaged devices, is he really what we would prefer. We, too, might look for someone who would save us only from our enemies and not from ourselves.
    We see in Mark’s gospel the jealous politicos, the swollen egos, the fearful leaders and even a traitorous follower, all conspiring to make sure that this Jesus does not get any more popular with the people or take any more authority away from them than he already has.  Oh, if they only knew with whom they were dealing!  In true gospel fashion, the only one who seemed to “get” who Jesus was during this passion narrative was the Roman centurion who crucified Jesus and watched him die!  He declared, “Truly this man was God’s Son!” (Mark 15:39). This humble Son showed us the Father...who he is and how he acts and how we are to imitate him.  And so from now through Good Friday, we travel from swaying palms to bloody passion, from Christ as hero to Christ as suffering servant. We watch Jesus literally “love us to death” and beyond.
I remember the first time I participated in a recitation of the passion narrative.  It was the congregation’s role to act as the mob who yelled out those fateful words, “Crucify Him!” I remember being embarrassed and ashamed to actually give voice to the words that sprang from that rabble as the chief priests incited their mob-like passions.  I could hardly raise my voice above a whisper.  And yet, those are the very words each of us must repent of because they are the words that announce themselves with each thought and action that is not a fruit of our relationship with God in Christ. We risk siding with the rabble when we neglect to follow our Lord to the foot of the cross and then, with God’s help, to stand up and go forth to do those things he has commanded us to do. 
The passion story of our Lord is filled with intrigue and a plot that thickens beyond all imagining that should have us flipping the pages of Scripture and wondering, in classic reader’s mode, “What will happen next?” And yet, it all too easily becomes more tiring than inspiring through the re-telling.  ‘Bible language’ may be part of the reason, but I also suspect the story can lack punch for us to the degree that we don’t see ourselves as participants.  This story is not only about Jesus; it’s about us.  It is his passion for us and it is our passion as we seek to rip away the cords of death that bind us and embrace the newness of life promised to us in our baptism.  When we read this age-old story without understanding that this is “the greatest story ever told” and that it is the story of our lives - as much as it was for those who experienced it in the year A.D. 33 - we have completely missed the essence of the plot.  Our “What will happen next?” will be proclaimed next Sunday and it is the most wondrous ending to any story.  EVER!  Read it and ponder where you fit in God’s great drama.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.


Weekly e-Devotion: March 9 Edition

John 3:14-21
Gospel Lesson for 
March 11 2018

14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. 20For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. 21But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”* 

    This Sunday’s Gospel passage contains what is perhaps the most famous, oft-quoted New Testament verse: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).” The entire passage from John dovetails almost seamlessly with the Pauline passage from Ephesians.  And since we are more than halfway through Lent, it’s probably time for a little grace!  Paul says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).” What a relief! In fact, even our faith is a gift from God.  We have done absolutely nothing to earn God’s unmerited favor toward us. We have nothing to offer God but our repentant hearts. 
Ephesians 2:1-10 is a template in three parts for any story of personal redemption.  It is interesting that speakers at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings (a group based largely on Christian understandings), employ a similar template: (1) What it was like, (2) What happened, and (3) What it’s like now. So, here is our story:

  1. Our beginning state is summed up in Romans 3:23: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We choose to sin; no one has to train their children to do the wrong thing, just the right thing!  To paraphrase C. S. Lewis, hell is a door locked from the inside.  Peel away the rationalizations of peer pressure, “keeping up with the Joneses,” or the ever-popular, “I’m the victim here!” and we see Satan at work…making sure our desires for the things of this world trump any longing for God and grace that is struggling to grow in us like a flower that wants to push up from a small crack in the cement! It has been said that often when we run from God, it is not that we’re running from his punishment so much as we are running from his rescue! We’re really not sure we want the things of God more than the things of this passing-away world.
  2. What God does about our predicament: God goes relentlessly after us until we have that wondrous, miraculous moment where, by faith, we decide to let God be God in our lives and save us from ourselves! In the midst of our defaced, disgraced, rebellious out-of-whack life, comes a “But God” moment where God, in his infinite mercy, picks up the divine paintbrush and begins to restore and re-create us back into his master work!
  3. What it’s like for us now: As God’s “work in progress,” he sends us back into the world to bring other damaged “works of art” back to him for restoration!  He would like to put his master signature on each of our lives.

    We are “created in Christ Jesus for good works (v. 10).” The answer to the age-old question, “Why was I born?” is here stated… We are created for good works. Our good works won’t save us, but they do proclaim the fruit of our faith (see James 2:17). 
    May we see our lives not as our personal agenda fraught with many interruptions, but, as Henri Nouwen came to understand, as comprised of and defined precisely by those very “interruptions!”  Frederick Buechner expressed it this way: “…little by little, compassionate love begins to change from a moral exercise or from a matter of gritting our teeth and doing our good deed for the day, into a joyous, spontaneous, self-forgetting response to the most significant aspect of all reality, which is that the world is holy because God made it and so are every one of us as well.”
If Lent can afford us a “holy death” unto resurrected life, it will have served its purpose.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.


Weekly e-Devotion: February 23 Edition

Mark 8:31-38
Gospel Lesson for 
February 25 2018

31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” 34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

    Peter had been with Jesus long enough to have absorbed quite a bit about him… his attitudes, his responses to things, his wisdom and his mission.  But when Jesus began to share the first details of God’s end-game with Peter and the other disciples, it came as such a shock that Peter did what Peter often did; he led with his mouth! And Jesus, knowing who had whispered in Peter’s ear, rebuked Satan who had entered Peter’s heart and mind (and mouth) and attempted, yet again, to tell Jesus he couldn’t or shouldn’t do what he came to do. 
    The frightening thing is that, without realizing it, we also can be “Satan” to each other. How often have we discouraged someone from taking a course of action, even though we don’t have all the facts.  Perhaps we are afraid for our children as they attempt to spread their wings. Maybe we think we know better than someone else how they should live their lives.  Whatever it is, we run the risk of speaking words to others that may not be God’s words to them. We may speak words of death, not life, if we, even for a moment, forget who we really are before God.
The disciples had signed on to follow Jesus and that meant they were “all in” as the saying goes.  Maybe they hadn’t yet played out the scenario where they might actually have to die for him.  They’d heard the parables but perhaps had not attached the ultimate price tag to their commitment. When Jesus asks us to take up our cross and follow him, he is asking us to nail to his cross our self-created identities and let us be of the same mind as Jesus regarding the non-sense of clinging to our mortal lives at the expense of our immortal souls. The cross we take up with him is one he helps us to carry.
Giving up our evening libation for Lent is one thing; giving our lives as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1) is quite another.  I know I have crawled off many an altar out of fear of the “cost of discipleship” (cf., Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s classic book by the same name). Bonhoeffer reminds us that when Christ calls a man (or woman), he bids him come and die.  And, in Bonhoeffer’s case, that is exactly what happened.  
I think we would rather not consider that it isn’t enough to say we follow Christ if there are no indentations on our shoulders from the cross we carry in his name.
We do tend to learn more from our struggles than our easy wins. The hard times are what separate the pilgrims from the tourists!  It’s relatively easy to be a Christian when no one is bugging you, no illness has felled you, and all is well with your world.  When the harsh winds of change begin to blow, the pilgrim who is committed to The Way has the necessary gear to withstand whatever forces swirl along the pilgrim path. The tourists will merely change their destination.
Lent reminds us that the path to resurrection runs right through the valley of the shadow of death. Jesus told us he gave his life in exchange for ours.  And our call is to do the same. A tourist might buy a cross to wear as adornment; a pilgrim carries Christ’s cross as both sacrifice and transformed life. One will tarnish, the other will transform.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: February 9 Edition

Mark 9:2-9
Gospel Lesson for 
Sunday February 11 2018

2 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 4And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ 6He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” 8Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. 9 As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

   Our scriptural journey of faith has brought us from the distant pinpoint of a guiding star all the way to the magnificent radiance of a mountaintop transfiguration! Light abounds, guiding us on our way as we seek to follow our Savior. With this last ‘epiphany’ before Lent begins, we read a story about the ups and downs of discipleship…times when we see clearly and times when we must stumble faithfully along a path with, at best, flickering light. I am guessing that most of our spiritual lives are experienced in “ fits and starts” of blinding light and overpowering shadows.
 After this overwhelming “reveal,” Jesus asked his disciples to keep this piece of their story to themselves until they had the final chapter…his resurrection! Considering their terror at this dazzling sight, they probably thought it would be a very good idea not to tell too many people…especially since words were failing them anyway!
     Ever since the Transfiguration, “mountaintop experiences” have stood for those special times when we saw ourselves and our Lord more clearly than we seem able to see down in the muck and mire of daily life. And who among us would not want to build a lean-to and continue to breathe that rarified air as long as we possibly could?
     The Transfiguration was the way God chose to make abundantly clear to Peter, James and John that Jesus was not just the latest and greatest in a long line of pseudo-saviors, rebel rabbis or political poseurs. Jesus was on an equal human footing with the likes of Moses and Elijah, those pillars of Judaism.  With one difference. God announced that Jesus was his beloved Son and they were to listen to him. God didn’t negate or minimize Moses and Elijah; he put them in perspective vis a vis Jesus. And with those words ringing in the disciples’ ears, they descended the mountain to continue on the Way.
     That’s what happens with these experiences.  During my convent “mountaintop,” I thought I would be able to live in sublime monastic seclusion for the rest of my days, but God had other plans!  The disciples, perhaps still stumbling a bit from the change in light, had to come down from their mountain as well.  But that does not mean that, like Mary, they - and we - do not ponder these things in our hearts forever. In 2 Peter 1:16-18, Peter reflects on his mountaintop time. “We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain (v. 18).”  This was not theory; they experienced something that has been shared for over 2,000 years!
     Hikers know it is more difficult to descend than ascend a trail, much harder on the legs, for sure. As we spiritually and emotionally descend the mountain of holidays and epiphanies to enter into the darker regions of Lent and Good Friday (in fact, the darker regions of our lives), we can find deep comfort in the fact that God descended not just from a mountain, but from heaven itself to be with us in our darkest places and offer to light our way, lighten our loads and give us the candlepower, if you will, to enlighten our world! In the process, we might just catch a glimpse of our fellow sojourners transfigured before us to add joy and strength to our days.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: January 26 Edition

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Epistle Reading for 
Sunday January 28 2018

1Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; 3but anyone ho loves God is known by him.4 Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “no idol in the world really exists,” and that “there is no God but one.” 55Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords— 6yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. 7 It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. 8 Food will not bring us close to God.” We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. 9But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling-block to the weak. 10For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols? 11So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed. 12But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall. 

   We live in a culture that is “all about me.” The concept of a “selfie” should tell us something about the fact that the earth no longer revolves around the sun, but around each one of us!  So, to read Paul instructing Christians to defer to someone else’s convictions on something as seemingly trivial as a menu choice is pretty tough sledding for most 21st century American Christians. Truly, we have mostly lost sight of the concept of boundaries inherent in any social contract which (in simplistic terms) presumes that my freedom is limited precisely at the point where it intersects with your freedom. Freedom and obedience can only work together in a sentence that includes Christ! 
    Paul, in this wonderful teaching epistle to the young Corinthian Christians, is attempting to form their spiritual character and conscience amidst a diverse set of cultural norms and expectations, which we can surely identify as similar to our society today.  Our world is hamstrung on the one hand by “political correctness” and, on the other, by a lack of social parameters around appropriate behavior.  We need Paul’s guidance as much as the Corinthians did. Paul is attempting to introduce what I think of as “moral etiquette” into our interactions with our fellow Christians and also with the world as Christians are forced to defend or explain other Christians’ actions on the public stage.
What is juxtaposed in this passage is our freedom in Christ with our responsibility toward others or, better said, the knowledge we have with the love we share.  The thrust of it all is that people are more important than practices and there is more involved in any issue than simply winning (or being “right”). Doing the right thing, even if we must sacrifice something (often a bit of pride or convenience) to avoid hampering another’s faith, seems to be the lesson here. As any parent knows, you love your children more than those things you give up for their sakes. To be able to say we will never again do something if it jeopardizes the faith of a “weaker” brother or sister is Christian maturity—agapé love—in full flower.
Never, in my lifetime at least, has it seemed more imperative that Christians act with forbearance and forgiveness to those others in the faith community with whom we have profound disagreements. If we cannot serve the world from a position of unity and hospitality, I fear the voice of Christ will continue to be dangerously muted and unintelligible to those he came to save. James 4:17 says this about an arrogant disregard for the convictions of others (or the avoidance of living responsibly from our own convictions!): “Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin.”
As it turns out, one of the gifts of the ecumenical movement has been knowledge of how other groups of Christians have responded to various issues and challenges of life and how that can help us more fully discern God’s will in the world. This is an antidote to becoming imperious “know-it-alls” who even repel Christians from Christianity! God’s ways are not our ways; therefore, we must impose love - not judgment - in our dealings with each other. We are not called to give up our convictions but to truly listen to the convictions of others and devise a path where each may walk with integrity, without becoming a stumbling block (Romans 14:13). May our only goal be to do the (sometimes) hard work to clear the path for others to come near to God.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: January 12 Edition

1 Samuel 3:1-10

First Reading
for Sunday 
January 14 2018

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread. 2 At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; 3the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” 5and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down.6The Lord called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” 7Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy.9Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

    Is there anyone in the world who feels adequately loved and appreciated?  I have spent precious years of life in creative attempts to fill that which Pascal referred to as my “God-shaped vacuum” with everything under the sun so that I won’t despair or be forced to face any sort of existential aloneness. St. Augustine, alas, had it right: “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”  
    However, as anyone in any significant relationship knows…as much as we desire intimacy, we also run from it.  We don’t actually want anyone to know absolutely everything about us.  As soon as Adam and Eve ate that fateful fruit, they hid from God and abandoned the intimacy they had experienced with the Almighty. We, in fact, often hide the truth of ourselves from ourselves! 
    The Samaritan woman called for everyone to come and see the Man who told her everything she had ever done.  I don’t recall a long line forming.  One of the reasons our forebears joined the chorus to “eliminate” Jesus was precisely his laser-focus on who we really are; humanity in its fallen state does not want to be “hemmed in” (Psalm 139:5) by God.
    Francis Thompson’s poem “The Hound of Heaven” captures this sense of our futile quest to find an easier god than God.  From the first stanza: 

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears 
I hid from Him,

But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbed pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat—and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet—
‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.’

    Luther wrote that whatever we fear or love or trust the most is, de facto, our god.  And if that is not God himself, inevitably, it will fail us.  To paraphrase Thompson, ‘All things betray us if they substitute for God.’ The Living God will be God in our lives, one way or another. The very thing we fear most (intimacy with God) is also the thing we most need.  As someone once said while going through extreme trials, “At times like this, I am glad I don’t have to go to God as a stranger.” 
    Foolish children, we who flee from our own salvation!  God knows us down to our fundamental particles—all the quarks and the quirks of us—from the first moment of our conception and before. And still he loves us with an all-surpassing, all-encompassing love we cannot even pretend to understand or fully apprehend. How freeing it is to know that we cannot hide from God!  Psalm 139 is a declaration that we are never alone, never unloved, never unknown and never misunderstood. 
    The sanctity of life has been under attack since Cain murdered Abel. Before abortion, capital punishment or euthanasia became pitched battles in the culture wars, the Psalmist David was extolling the preciousness of human life… each one of us, unique as a snowflake, beloved of God.  What self-esteem issues can stand in the face of such honor? If you look in a mirror and don’t like what you see, look very carefully because Jesus is beside you and he is smiling!
    Paul was convinced that absolutely nothing on earth or in heaven could separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39). And Jesus—Love Himself—said, “Lo, I am with you always (Matthew 28:20).”  For God’s loving, relentless pursuit of us, thanks be to God!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: December 29 Edition

Galatians 4:4-7

Epistle Lesson for Sunday
December 31 2017

4But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. 6And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

   We have just celebrated the birth of our savior, our best brother, the son of God, the one to whom we owe our salvation and our adoption as God’s children. I am guessing that not one of us skated through childhood without a few bumps from the sidewalk where our parents were concerned. If we were most fortunate, those bumps did not leave lasting scars but, instead, became touchpoints on our journey to maturity.
    Many of us, however, were not so fortunate. Some of us incurred such deep scarring from the very ones we saw as our earliest “gods” that those scars became shields against trust, against intimacy, against the real God who is the only one who can heal us, help us and truly love us.
    In this epistle, Paul is focusing on the monumental difference between our pre-Christ status as slaves to the law, to our worst selves, to the principalities and powers…and the amazing liberation of now being God’s very own children! He is our “Daddy” (for that is the translation of the “Abba” we find in scripture) and we are co-heirs with Christ who, as our elder brother, first employed that term of endearment. How nervous, uncertain or fearful that makes us is a touchstone for us in the ongoing healing of our souls.
    But isn’t it awfully hard to give up title to all the accomplishments, achievements, self-styled virtues and goodness that we have racked up in our years on earth as the badges we wear to proclaim ourselves worthy before God? In abject fear, we have bowed before God and said, “Lord, will this be enough?” Paul was quite clear that if we do that—present anything other than ourselves, our souls and bodies to God in absolute surrender—“Christ will be of no benefit to you” (Galatians 5:2).
    If you were blessed with children, you know that they need give you nothing more or other than themselves. That is all our Abba wants from each one of us. The heart-cries of a child… ‘Daddy, I scraped my knee. Daddy, they are making fun of me. Daddy, do you love me? Daddy, thank you, thank you, thank you! How did you know this was what I always wanted? Daddy, I love you.’ These are earthly versions of what God yearns to hear from each one of us.
    “The Law” conjures images of imperious judgment, unbridgeable expectations, frustration and failure. Christ has superseded that law with freedom, mercy and love in all of God’s infinite abundance. Christ has come that we might stop living “under the circumstances” and come forth into God’s marvelous light with new vision. As Hamlet most famously said, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
    This Christmastide, let us reflect anew on the redeemed world we are commissioned as his children to help inaugurate. We kids are now neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, slave nor free (Galatians 3:27-28)—dare I add Republican nor Democrat—and have been adopted as God’s children and heirs to everything a good Father longs to give his cherished progeny. Of all the gifts Christmas has given us, remember what the gospels tell us again and again, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:11; Luke 11:13)
    The law was the old, rule-bound way to determine who was “in” and who was “out”. Christ has come to clean the slates and gather us all back together as one. The fulfillment of the law made possible by Christ, comes down to just this: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (cf. Matthew 22:37-40). That is what family does.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: December 15 Edition

 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

2nd Reading for Sunday December 17 2017

16Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19Do not quench the Spirit. 20Do not despise the words of prophets, 21but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22abstain from every form of evil.23 May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

   This passage reminds me of my mother calling out to us kids as we were getting ready for school: “Don’t forget your homework; be nice to your classmates; look both ways before you cross the street.…”  “Yes, Mom. Okay, Mom. Sure, Mom.” There is always a list of things we are responsible for doing or not doing and it is often in direct competition, if not opposition, to the things we actually want to do!
    Here, the Apostle Paul is giving us a bullet-point list of exhortations on the activities of the faithful life:

  • Rejoice always!  (Even when things are awful?)
  • Pray without ceasing! (How is that even possible?)
  • Give thanks in all circumstances! (Does he really mean ALL?)
  • Do not quench the Spirit.  (I won’t, if you tell me what that means.)
  • Do not despise the words of prophets.  (How do we recognize a prophet from a crank?)
  • Test everything and hold fast to what is good.  (What’s the test?)
  • Abstain from every form of evil.  (Should I just stay in bed from now on?)

    Okay, that’s a bit flip…but not really.  Don’t we all have that kind of response when we are faced with what radically submitting to God actually entails?  And yet, v. 24 gives us courage to go forward because in actuality, it is God who is faithful.  It is God who accomplishes this in us as we seek to do God’s will in all things. One of AA’s slogans is pertinent here: “Let go and let God.” Since we know only God can accomplish this, what stops us?   
    There is a book entitled The Practice of the Presence of God, which is a compilation of writings and sayings of Brother Lawrence, a 17th-century French monk.  In this short book, we are given great insight into precisely how it is that we can fulfill the exhortations delivered above by Paul. Brother Lawrence shows us how to align our attitudes with God’s heart and our hearts with God’s.  In this way, we mature in faith and God’s will becomes ever more fully our will.  Suddenly, we find that we have been transformed, by the renewing of our minds. We will know what is right and want to do it! (Romans 12:1-2) Our lives will embody an “attitude of gratitude.”
    Brother Lawrence saw God’s glory while he was washing dishes in the monastery kitchen.  Here is vintage Br. Lawrence: “The most excellent method of going to God is that of doing our common business without any view of pleasing people but purely for the love of God.”  And again, “We ought not to grow tired of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.”
    The Benedictines made this their motto: “Laborare est Orare:” to work is to pray.  This focus begins a process whereby the dividing walls that compartmentalize our lives begin to crumble.  Eventually, we won’t have a spiritual life, a personal life, a work life…we will have a life and it will be an abundant life, as Christ has promised (John 10:10).
    Through these means—these alternative activities—we will come to desire to rejoice always, to pray without ceasing, to give thanks in all circumstances and all the rest of those precious admonitions.  Our love for our Lord not only demands it, but makes it possible! We will know deep in our spirits that whatever we see of this world’s triumphs or tragedies, they are not the last word God is writing.  We are helping God write the next pages of the salvation saga. May this Advent season be also the advent of a new faith-born activity in our lives!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: December 1 Edition

1Corinthians 1:3-9
Epistle Lesson
for Sunday December 
3 2017

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, 5for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— 6just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— 7so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

   American Christianity has experienced some hard knocks in the past couple of years. There is a vast array of opinions and proof-texts on whether we should focus on the kingdom of God to come or the kingdom of God that we might legislatively create in America during any given election cycle. Where we fall on that spectrum affects everything from our politics to our family relationships. The number of memoirs being written about believers who have exited one denomination for another, traveled from the conservative end of the faith to a more moderate or liberal group, or even said goodbye to us altogether has grown noticeably. 
    One would think, considering the issues Paul was confronting with this group of early Corinthian Christians, his praise and thanksgiving for them would have been tempered a bit.  In fact, when you begin to list out the issues he addresses in this epistle, it could just as easily be addressed to the contemporary church… divisive loyalties to competing leaders within the community, notorious sexual misconduct, Christians suing Christians, contention over the use of spiritual gifts, unequal treatment of people depending on social status, and heterodox practices in worship. It does call forth the lament, “How long, O Lord?”
But Paul understood (as we also need to understand) that the worth and meaning of those called by God comes from God alone, not from anything we are or do in and of ourselves.  As Paul tells the Philippians (2:13), “It is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” He is emphasizing that even these notorious Corinthians will be “blameless” at the end, but only because of what Christ has done for all whose faith is in God. Paul reminds and encourages the Corinthian Christians (and us) to recognize that God has given us every gift and skill we need to do God’s will and to persevere until we meet God face to face.  That is our legacy and promise from God. In these contentious times, this may be one of the big mysteries to ponder as we seek to repair the jagged rifts in our church and culture.
One of the errors Paul set out to correct in this letter is the complacency that is all too easily acquired when it feels as though everything we need has been provided—and in abundance. The question becomes, “Why should we even think about the end of the age or anything beyond the present?”  Without a definite sense of the ultimate end and purpose of our earthly lives as God’s children, we will see the same mistakes in our lives as Paul was pointing out to the Corinthians… a focus on self rather than community, no sense of urgency toward deepening discipleship, no rootedness in justice or peace in the here and now. Being too certain of our salvation may make us too complacent about everyone else’s!
Paul is challenging the Corinthians (and us as their successors in the faith) to live lives faithfully in a culture that makes that exceedingly difficult. God is faithful (v. 9) even when his children are not. God has called us out from the culture into a community of the faithful, and it seems we need that very community to reinforce our faithfulness.  As Prof. Dwight Peterson (Eastern Univ.) put it, “Faithfulness is a team sport that requires the unity of the church.” I believe there will never be détente in the “culture wars” until Christians of every stripe lay down the placards, quiet the rhetoric and, instead, choose to shape our lives around the life and example of our Lord while we wait patiently and prayerfully for his “Well done.”

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: November 17 Edition

Matthew 25:14-30

Gospel Lesson
for Sunday
19 2017

14 “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.166The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’21His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 22And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ 23His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ 24Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed;25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ 26But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ ”


    Scripture abounds with declarations from angels and from Jesus to “Fear not!” But I’m guessing that much of our lives are lived out of a complex mixture of motivations, with fear as a common additive.  Certainly the slaves of the absent master in Matthew’s rendition of this parable represent how God feels about our fears when it comes to building his kingdom!  This tale is about how we are to live “in the meantime,” the meantime between the “right now” and the “finally!” of the fullness of God’s kingdom.  This and the two previous parables in Matthew (The Faithful & Unfaithful Slaves and The Wise & Foolish Bridesmaids) feature a master who was on site, then departed with an unknown date of return.  Faith, patience, trust, hope and dedication are all attributes that either thrive or wither in this meantime that we all share. 
    I have spent much too much time on fear-filled roads, often wondering if I have veered off God’s road for a highway with more wayside attractions! Jesus continues to beckon from a far distance asking me to risk traveling a very narrow road that will end up with the best view EVER! But sometimes fearing the Lord actually means being afraid of him! Too many of us carry that lingering image of the father who perhaps abandoned the family or the father you might have wished had abandoned the family, which makes it precious difficult to follow that father God into unknown, risky territory!
Our primary image of God often, if not almost always, determines how we see God working in the world and in our lives. A judgmental God is constantly putting stumbling stones in our path. A loving God is giving us a whole lot of leeway. A vengeful God just makes you want to stay in bed all day! And in this parable, the idea of God apparently leaving the vicinity and bequeathing all the hard work and tough decisions to his employees is anxiety-inducing indeed! What image of God might be determining your response to his call?
In every one of these ‘absent-master’ parables, rewards come to those who remain faithful, doing the work they have been given to do.  Particularly in this parable, the sense is that the punishment meted out to the slave with only one talent to “invest” is in many ways a self-inflicted punishment.  He was given “equal opportunity” to use the gifts he was given to benefit his master and, thus, himself and chose instead a fearful avoidance of his responsibilities. Faith evaporates and fear reigns when anyone hunkers down and hoards not only their goods but themselves.  That is when judgment falls (see 1 Thessalonians 5:3). Doing the will of God carries the invitation to enter into the joy of the Lord. Setting off on our own path is a bit like hiking off-trail in the Himalayas.  It may be a good time for a while, but it will not end well. 
Our faith must be tested so that we ourselves know who we are.  Is the God of your thoughts and feelings, a God worthy of your worship and service?  If not, it might be time to eschew the false messiahs created out of our imaginations and fears and seek the living God who loves us more than life itself and proved it by giving his life for ours!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: November 3 Edition

Matthew 5:1-12

Gospel Lesson for All Saints Sunday
November 5 2017

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

   We Westerners have become almost exclusively enamored of and distracted by celebrities rather than heroes, be they business successes, sports figures or the music/movie industry darlings du jour. These are our pantheon of gods and goddesses against whom we measure our own successes. These are our idols and these are our role models and these are our saints—even when their flagrant transgressions are proudly on display!
    I am with Luther (and 1 Peter 2:5) in an insistence that we are all saints, we who follow God and seek to do his will. There are even those out in the world doing saintly things who have no idea that ‘saint’ is an adjective that would apply to them! The young girl whose answer to her cancer is to start a foundation; the young man who befriends the elderly in his neighborhood, mowing their lawns and making sure they are okay. That one on a fixed income who still gives a portion of that “widow’s mite” to charities that touch her heart. The successful professional who decides that philanthropy is integral to true success. Saints are often among us as surprises and in disguises!
    In this passage, Jesus is teaching us about the (be) attitudes of his kingdom to which we must aspire as we continue to live and grow in our relationships with God and each other.  This is what saints look like!  And these are ways of living and being that make us happy!  Modern translations of this passage sometimes use the word “happy” rather than “blessed” to describe lives lived out of these decisions to approach life with meekness and mercy and hunger for God.  Could it be that the framers of our country had this kind of happiness in mind when the Declaration of Independence called happiness a right we should pursue?
    A concept that contemporary American spiritual seekers find very difficult to swallow is the Christian emphasis on “deferred gratification.” I certainly grew up with a big dose of Matthew 5:12 which told me that my reward will be great in heaven. Life might be rough now, but just wait! I will have a crown bejeweled with my redeemed “accomplishments” to set before Jesus’ feet one day (Revelation 4:10). It is intriguing that this passage crafts the promises of the beatitudes in the future…you will be comforted, filled, you will obtain mercy, see God. Jesus begins his reflection by saying that those who are poor in spirit (or, according to Luke, just “poor”) already inhabit the kingdom of heaven. Not every person who is poor would buy that line for a minute, although many are more in tune with their need for God than those of us with more cushions against temporal disaster.  But if we are poor in spirit, it means we are not so full of ourselves that we ignore our primary need for God in our lives.  Minus God, we are, each of us, ultimately destitute.
    We can be enamored of the rich and famous, envious of their lifestyles, their manufactured beauty and lush surroundings.  But when the camera pans around to a Mother Teresa or a Desmond Tutu living authentically from the very core of their being in response to God’s love, the superficial trappings of celebrity collapse like a house of cards, and we are reminded of what really matters and what an authentic life looks like. The salt and the light emanating from the lives and actions of all the saints is, to turn the phrase, the leaven in the loaf, the catalyst that shows the world that it is good to follow Christ.  Indeed, it makes us supremely happy!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: October 20 Edition

Matthew 22:15-22

The Gospel Lesson for Sunday
October 22 2017

15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said.16So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. 17Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” 18But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? 19Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. 20Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” 21They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 22When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.

   Last year’s unprecedented display of political gamesmanship and the disheartening religious engagement in those games comes to mind as I read this passage. The Pharisees have double-teamed with the Herodians in an attempt to entrap Jesus by asking him another seemingly impossible-to-answer question: “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor?” (The Herodians were those who had aligned with the Roman occupation of Palestine and the Pharisees were observant Jews, offended at having to pay taxes to a foreign government. But in this instance, they came together, conniving to foil Jesus. A take on the dynamic of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”)
    Jesus asked them for a coin. He asked them whose image was depicted on said coin and then suggested that they give it to the one to whom it was due.  What he didn’t say, but what we Christians can discern from this passage is that the image stamped on each of us is the image of God. We may contribute our money, our stuff and even some of our time and effort into temporal and political concerns, but in the realm of God we owe absolutely everything that we are and have toward the worship of God. We worship by serving those he most especially cherishes: the sick, the lonely, the elderly, the children, the poor, the prisoner, the hungry and the homeless.  Because we are citizens of God’s realm, our entire perspective on our political lives must be adjusted away from the American status quo of self-reliance, self-aggrandizement, and yes, the belief that certain religious biases should have pride of place at the heart of our government. 
    In these fraught political times, what we pay out to Caesar can come back to haunt us!  Last year, my Facebook page was practically weaponized with one-off comments from one end of the political spectrum to the other, pitched out of context, disregarding facts, and, for the most part, shots across the bow intended only to defame or debunk “the other side.” I am as guilty as the next guy of falling for this substitute for true political and religious engagement. As expected, these political salvos backfired and made the sender appear either naïve or misguided or just plain mean-spirited. As we all learned last year, the one thing they never do is encourage cooperation, consensus or Christian charity!  
    God has never rescinded his commandment that we have no other gods before him.  We do not actually own anything; we are stewards entrusted by God to manage and tend both ourselves and our world. If we try to own something, it eventually (and inevitably) owns us instead. We have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). Jesus says, “pay Caesar,” (see also Paul’s arguments about submitting to the powers that be in Romans 13:1) yet the undertone is more nuanced, relativizing and subverting the power of government in God’s overriding kingdom. We would do well to imagine the eye we see on the dollar bill to be God’s own, assessing how we are spending Caesar’s coin!
    Wall Street, Madison Avenue, Washington, DC and all the ‘powers that be’ will ultimately fail us, but in God’s economy there is abundance in the midst of need and blessing in the midst of calamity. As citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20), we must be able to stand courageously in the realm of “Caesar” and proclaim by word and example to Whom we pay ultimate tribute. Praying “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth…” means we must be vigilant, considering what we give to whom…and why.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: October 6 Edition

Matthew 21:33-46

The Gospel Lesson for Sunday
October 8 2017

33 ‘Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watch-tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. 34When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. 35But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. 37Finally he sent his son to them, saying, “They will respect my son.” 38But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.” 39So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 40Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ 41They said to him, ‘He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.’ 42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes?’ 43Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. 44The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.” 45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. 46They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.

   This passage continues Jesus’ responses to the question, “By what authority do you do these things?”  This week’s parable speaks to the difference between ownership and stewardship, whether of our lives or our ‘vineyards’ (our vineyards include those places where we are called to bear fruit: home, church, world). 
    The Old Testament lesson (Isaiah 5:1-7), commonly referred to as Isaiah’s “Song of the Vineyard,” appears to be the original story on which Jesus offers commentary.  This story works as an allegory, i.e., the owner of the vineyard is God; the vineyard itself is the House of Israel; the wicked tenants are the religious leaders; the servants sent to collect the owner’s fruit are the prophets who were slain for their prophesies; and the owner’s son is Jesus who will, in short order, be killed as well.
As the story progresses, we hope against hope as we read, “They will respect my son.”  But they didn’t. During their ongoing tenancy, the tenants (read: religious establishment) developed a proprietary interest in the vineyard, confusing tenancy with ownership; they enjoyed the fruits of their labors instead of stewarding the harvest for the real owner.  What kind of tenants are we?  Do we know for whom we labor?  Are we producing the fruits that God requires?  Or have we settled in and decided that instead of stewards, we are the owners, entitled to the vineyard and thus able to run it however we want?  And, furthermore, any servants (prophets, pastors, parents, friends) who dare to say differently will be dealt with appropriately!  This all-too-common behavior has been called “functional atheism,” this idea that we are actually in charge of things and are answerable to no one beyond ourselves!  The old saw, “If you want to hear God laugh, start making plans” applies here! 
As writer Enuma Okoro puts it, “Like the tenants in Matthew 21, we can turn from receiving God’s gifts with gratitude and obedience toward having a false and foolish sense of entitlement.  The sad and desperate truth is that when we feel entitled to something we can justify going to any lengths to have it.” The Pharisees had a variety of motives for wanting Jesus dead, chief among them was their jealousy of the favor he was garnering from the people, as well as the threat he was to their very livelihood and religious stature. It appears they feared the crowds much more than they feared the Lord.
God does not easily give up on the tenants in this story; nor does he give up on us.  But there is an accountability factor to being a tenant in God’s vineyard.  God expects a harvest of righteousness from each of us. And we cannot produce fruit if we cut ourselves off from the vine (Christ), as though a branch off by itself will do anything other than die!  See John 15 for an elegant description of Christ as vine and we as branches.
When we feel ourselves “withering” spiritually, we can ask God to restore us to the Vine and help us to heed the words of the prophets God has placed for us along the way.  As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in The Cost of Discipleship, “If you dismiss the word of God’s command, you will not receive the word of God’s grace.”  
The question for each of us is, “Whose vineyard is it, anyway?” 

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: Sept 22 Edition

Matthew 20:1-16

The Gospel Lesson for Sunday
Sept 24 2017

1 ‘For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. 3When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; 4and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. 5When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same.6And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ 7They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ 8When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ 9When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 10Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” 

   When we read the parable of the laborers in the vineyard, we might decide we’re reading the story of another economic quagmire where this boss just does whatever he wishes, regardless of needs or fairness.  Especially fairness! Do your kids (or perhaps, you?) exclaim, “That’s not fair!” approximately every hour on the hour?  God loves each of us equally, even when it really doesn’t look that way.  Some kids never make peace with how their parents apparently loved their siblings more or differently than they were loved. Most parents do indeed love their children equally, but also individually so, of course, it might not appear to be “equal” to a child on the receiving end.
    We mortals can’t help but waste precious time and strain relationships engaging in invidious comparisons! But from the infinite heart of parental love and most importantly, God our Father’s love, there is no “favorite;” we all are favorites and most beloved. It is simply more apparent sometimes that, while the wages of sin for the believer have become instead “the wages of grace,” some appear to be receiving their wages sooner or in more abundance than we think is fair!
This parable has also been dubbed “Grumbling about Generosity.”  Grumble as we may, God’s ways are far above our ways (see Isaiah 55:9).  Notice that the landowner only offered a specific wage to the first group of workers; after that, he either said he would give them “whatever is right” or, with the last group, there was no mention of pay at all!  So, at the end of the day, when wages were being distributed, this guy could have avoided all the grumbling if he’d paid first the workers who started first so they could go on home.  No one would have been the wiser about the fact that he paid everybody the same amount of money whether they worked 12 hours or one! 
Instead, the story makes sure that everyone sees exactly what the generous heart of God is all about.  We can grumble and exclaim “Not Fair!” but we cannot escape the message that our reward with God is not based on anything we have accomplished or how long we have been accomplishing it!  It is entirely up to the grace, mercy and generosity of God whose upside-down kingdom where the last are first and the first are last is repeatedly displayed in scripture… where the least of these are chosen to sit at the head of the banquet table.  I believe God wants to make sure we get this concept even if we can’t at first make any earthly sense of it! God’s economy will never fit on a spreadsheet!
A wondrous quote from Dante’s The Divine Comedy (Paradise III: 64-85) includes this response from an inhabitant of a “lower” dimension of heaven:

“…our love has laid our wills to rest,
Making us long only for what is ours,
And by no other thirst to be possessed… 

…His will is our peace.…”

Oh to be so divinely content with what God gives us and what God withholds from us! Do not be envious, God says, because God is generous. One day we will all have eyes to see and hearts to fully know how much he loves us all.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: Sept 8 Edition

Matthew 18:15-20

The Gospel Lesson for Sunday
Sept 10 2017

15 “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. 16But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector.18Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

   What happens when people stop paying attention to one another? When subdivisions build walls instead of front porches? When we erect barriers rather than promote gatherings?  Various statistics exist, but it is estimated that only about half of us know our neighbors by name and only about one-third of us know our neighbors at all. I remember the day we had a fire down the street. That event got us out and talking to one another but the connection lasted only as long as the flames! Right now in Houston we are watching with joy as strangers become neighbors. But we also see evidence of our society’s isolation on the news every night. “Yes, he lived down the street from me, but I had no idea…”  No, we don’t! Not anymore. Couple our well-orchestrated anonymity with our culture’s values-free view of behavior, and this week’s Gospel lesson could not be more relevant…or more foreign to many ears. 
    Jesus is talking about nothing less than, as one writer puts it, “the extravagant discipline of forgiveness.”  In the context of the rest of Matthew’s 18th chapter, this is yet another scenario of how to behave in the kingdom of God.  Here, Jesus puts into place a modus operandi for reconciliation, restoration and accountability.  When we have been offended, it’s natural to want to run and hide in a dark corner of resentment and hurt, but Jesus calls us to forgive and be forgiven.  This may be what prompted G. K. Chesterton’s famous comment, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it’s been found difficult and not tried!”
In our day and age, accountability is a strained and rare commodity.  If someone is “called on the ecclesiastical carpet,” so to speak, it is all too easy to simply disappear into the congregation down the street.  Even if that person never repeats the offending behavior, community and relationships have been ruptured. The point of these instructions on forgiveness is not to win a battle but to regain a soul.  (See Matthew 18:6 for Jesus’ strong words about what happens when we fail at this!) When we lose the ability or desire to hold each other accountable in our ongoing discipleship, community suffers and eventually disappears.  
Our greatest comfort and treasure on earth is authentic Christian community.  It is no accident that Jesus sets the attendance bar low here:  “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”  In that intimate Spirit-led gathering, we are given all the power on earth and in heaven to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” The keys Jesus has given us are meant to unlock justice and peace through love and to lock away forever anything that seeks to prevail against God and God’s children.
This is so important to God that he will “hold our supper (Matthew 5:23-24)” until we have made peace, not with those who have offended us, but with those we have offended! There is no way to be patronizing in our approach to another when we are the offenders! Are we ready to give and receive God’s “tough love?” A fellowship of forgiveness was what first attracted people to the followers of Jesus. Jesus taught us this holy exchange—the only petition in his prayer that comes with a condition—Forgive me, Lord, just as I forgive others. Are we ready for that challenge? Our neighbors are waiting for us.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: August 25 Edition

Matthew 16:13-20

The Gospel Lesson for Sunday
August 27 2017

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

   In our ongoing love affair with the natural beauty of Southern Utah, we explored the canyons and vistas at Capitol Reef National Park this summer. On our last day, I decided to take off alone on a walk through Capitol Gorge. I was stopped in my tracks repeatedly as I gazed upon the grand expanse of rocks and rock formations. It was quiet on this walk—the quality of deep (one might almost say “insistent”) quiet that you can only experience in nature’s back ways. In that profound quiet, those rocks cried out to me (Luke 19:40). I felt the solidity of God, the everlastingness of God and the stability and surety of my place in the family of God. It was quite a nature walk! 
    It matters a great deal to theologians whether verse 18 of this gospel passage is indicating that Peter is the rock, Peter’s confession is the rock, or Jesus himself is the rock. On those kinds of theological reflections, entire denominations are birthed. But instead of focusing on ecclesiastical issues of organizational structure, it might be more edifying to reflect on how Peter’s declaration of faith and belief was his (and eventually the disciples’) transition from merely walking around with Jesus to becoming his faithful followers.
“You are my rock” is a common term of endearment. But there is a transition moment or a slow realization when you arrive at the awareness that someone else is your rock. And at that moment, everything changes. Making verbal this kind of proclamation validates what we are thinking and feeling, brings it into the external world and makes all the difference. So it was for Peter and the disciples.
This moment also becomes a line drawn in that desert sand between Jesus’ active ministry on earth and his preparation for his crucifixion (and our salvation).  So, to make sure his disciples are ready to begin the next stage of their journey with Him (and their journey post-Resurrection), Jesus asks his disciples to tell him what people were saying about him… “Who do they say that I am?”  Then, he gets down to it with the disciples:  “But who do you say that I am?” 
As usual, it was Peter who spoke first (for all of them) in tones more of worship than merely of response: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  And Jesus assured them that His Father had revealed this to Peter (and, by extension, to all the disciples).  This is no longer about Jesus being an earthly king or even an earth-bound savior (as we so often want our politicians to be!).   This is about the advent of the church as we have eventually received it; the body of Christ, the kingdom of heaven (‘on earth as it is in heaven,’ for which we daily pray).
The keys to the kingdom- keys of authority and purpose- were verbally presented to Peter and, two chapters in Matthew later, to all the apostles (Matthew 18:18). We, who make the same claim that Peter made, are all a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9)!  We all carry a set of God’s keys, empowering and enabling us to proclaim with our lips and show forth in our lives that Jesus Christ is Lord. 
We too must allow this realization of who Jesus is to descend from our minds to our hearts and ultimately out into our worlds in salvific ways. God’s foundational question remains for each of us to answer:  “Who do YOU say that I am?”

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: August 11 Edition

Matthew 14:22-33

The Gospel Lesson for Sunday
August 13 2017

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them.25And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake.26But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” 28 Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. 30But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

    Jesus and his disciples have just had a miraculous meal with 5,000 of their “closest friends.” He was bone-tired and, having just heard of the death of his friend and precursor John, he was grief-stricken as well. So, following this miracle meal, He sent the disciples to sea, dismissed the crowd, and retreated to a mountain spot to pray.
    Soon, the disciples were caught up in a bad storm and the fishermen among them would be the first to exclaim that this is not the kind of water they wanted to be near, let alone in!  Jesus and his disciples had been in this “distressed-at-sea” situation before (see Matthew 8:23-27). Jesus would have known in the depths of his being that this storm was going to happen. So He had a reason- probably several reasons- for giving them the ‘opportunity’ of facing this storm.  But remember… He sent them into danger, and he went into prayer, no doubt for their safety during the tumult.
    So, Jesus let them be buffeted about for most of the night. Finally, they perceived someone apparently walking effortlessly on the water!  The disciples could not have had a wink of sleep trying to fight the wind, so of course they had exhausted, sleep-deprived thoughts like, “It’s a ghost!”  But as the figure drew closer, they saw that it might actually be Jesus!  Peter, impetuous man that he was, decided to find out for sure; “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”  And so Jesus bid him. Peter, never taking his eyes off Jesus, climbed out of the boat and took a few tentative steps.  Everything was just fine until he sort of “came to” and took a look around at what he was actually doing—how wildly improbable it was—and began to sink like a stone. 
    I remember a sermon from many years ago, only because of its clever tag line: “What are you doing ‘under the circumstances?’ ”  Christians are “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37) and the circumstances of our lives should take a back seat to the reality of our relationship with God in Christ Jesus. Even as it appears that Peter was asking God to prove himself, God was giving Peter the same chance. As long as we live our lives focused on Christ, we will be amazed at the stormy seas we too will tread. When we take our eyes off our Savior and Lord, that’s when we begin to sink “under the circumstances” and lose our spiritual and temporal footing.  
    In both stories featuring Jesus, the disciples, wobbly boats and bad storms, it is notable that Jesus ended up in the boat with them.  He doesn’t calm our storms and walk away; he calms our storms and comes even closer to his friends. His very incarnation is his way of getting into our boats and helping us row our way to shore! Jesus was actually inviting Peter (and each of us) out into the swirling uncertainties and knock-you-over tidal waves of life so that, whether we begin to sink or are able to swim, God will keep us afloat and, in that process, we will finally know who Jesus is with and for us. When we reach our own limitations, that is when God bids us walk with Him. That ‘walk’ will almost certainly include deep, troubled waters as well as placid seas. To each of us for all our lives, Jesus says, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: July 28 Edition

Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

The Gospel Lesson for Sunday
July 30 2017

31 He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; 32it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” 33 He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; 46on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. 47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; 48when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. 49So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 51 Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” 52And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

   Mustard seeds…miniscule little seeds from which bushes appearing as trees can sometimes reach ten feet (or so I have read).  Most of us know about small beginnings, but at the same time, we have been schooled in the predictable results.  Imagine when Jesus first spoke these words concerning the mustard seed.  Scholars say those hearing it were ones who had already committed themselves to following Jesus.  Being “first generation” followers, they had yet to see very much harvest.  I can imagine them perhaps having a few disconcerting moments pondering whether they might have accidentally hitched their wagon to yet another charismatic traveling evangelist… one who might be “pulling their legs” about this kingdom of heaven thing. They had no reference points from which to measure kingdom growth.
    Many times, as I observe what goes on in our culture, I cannot believe Christianity has made the impact it set out to make. (If you doubt as I sometimes do, a great antidote is John Ortberg’s book, Who Is This Man? The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus, which chronicles the unlikely and pervasive global influence of this “small beginning!”). But just as yeast permeates the whole loaf of bread, so the Holy Spirit is abroad in the land, in ways both seen and unseen, drawing God’s own toward God’s self.  The time of uncertainty between the planting of the seed and the appearance of the tree is the in-between time of our earthly existence.
    The parables of the Pearl of Great Price and The Hidden Treasure provide two more ways to approach this earthly ambiguity.  For the person who found the treasure hidden in a field didn’t really appear to be looking for it!  He (or she) was like someone who casually filled out the Publisher’s Clearing House entry forms and, having completely forgotten about it, is met at the door a few months later with balloons and a super-sized replica of a check worth an unimaginable amount of money!
    However, the one who found the pearl of great price was, in fact, a diligent seeker.  When this pearl was found, its ultimate value was recognized and all good stewardship was put in place for its protection and care.  With both the one who fortuitously falls into his inheritance and the one who tries everything until he finally finds it, the Spirit seems to work in a hidden way as the kingdom grows.
    This passage is constructed as though Jesus was pitching one parable after another, trying to make sure that if the disciples didn’t get the picture from one, they would from another. He ends this series of scatter- gun parables with the question, “Have you understood all this?” They had more nerve than I when they answered, “Yes!” (v. 51)
    Just as Jesus instructed his disciples, therefore, to use what they have learned for the good of others, we should always also be bringing from the storehouse of our faith, the treasures we have sought and found, both new and old, to share with each other and the world. Ours is not to yearn for the ten-foot tree so much as it is to plant, nourish and tend the seed from which it will grow. And all that is hidden will be revealed…in God’s good time.

If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: July 14 Edition

Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

The Gospel Lesson for Sunday
July 16 2017

13That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake.2Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow.4And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. 6But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. 7Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9Let anyone with ears listen!”
18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. 20As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. 22As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. 23But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

   One of several surprises I had when I moved to the desert Southwest was the color of the soil.  Having grown up with the rich, black soil of Iowa, I was unprepared for our dusty, beige caliche-ridden soil that always seems to triumph over any non-weed plant that attempts an appearance!
    Jesus not only delivered this parable, but in an unusual move, explained it as well, thus emphasizing the importance that his hearers prepare the soil of their hearts for his message.  Soil is easier to analyze than the human heart.  Not even a DNA test will unearth all the soils we embody. The sadness in this story is how much soil remains unprepared, untilled and neglected, thus sloughing off the seeds of new life.
Unlike modern farming, with GPS-powered mechanisms to deliver seeds precisely where they need to land, Jesus’ sower flung a profligacy of seeds in hope that more will take root than be caught by the wind and sent to places where growth is impossible. 
We live such frantically busy lives that the seeds snatched up by the birds of our neglect are fairly easy to imagine.  Most of us reserve very little time for meditation, contemplation, biblical study and prayer, so it is safe to assume that any “still, small voice” seeking our ears has little chance of being discerned above the din of voice mail, streaming video, twitter storms, and talk radio. No one can successfully treat Scripture as though it were a divine news crawl at the bottom of a screen or a particularly lilting sound-byte from above. Paul assures his readers in 1 Corinthians 2:14 that Scripture is not immediately understood but must be spiritually discerned.  If the seeds hardly reach the ground before we are off to the next thing, there can be no grounding in God.
There are those who immediately hear comfort and joy in the message of Christ and happily embrace the good news…until the good news becomes the serious news, the difficult news or the impossible news or, these days, perhaps the alternative news!  Then, it’s back to the search for good news that stays upbeat and demands of us nothing particularly difficult or painful. The stirring of a powerful preacher will fade if the hearer is only beguiled by words instead of convicted by truth.
The image of soil actually choking the word reminds me again of caliche. Jesus speaks of this as the soil covered over and packed down with the weight of our “stuff,” the cares of our world, the “pursuit of happiness” – as Americans have defined it—all conspiring to make the good news only some news competing with lots of other news and nothing that would stop us in our tracks.
Finally, Jesus described the good soil where the seeds are nurtured so that a harvest of faith and righteousness results.  And the harvests vary in size, which is great comfort to those of us whose fields are small.  Before we can sow, we must allow God’s seed to die and rise anew within us. Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it will only be a seed. (John 12:24) Seeds allowed to germinate within our hearts will break open and become the fruit of righteous lives. When we turn the soil of our hearts, what emerges?  Do we find the hard caliche of sin, the asphalt of worldly ambitions, empty seed pods dried to dust from utter neglect?  Or do we find tender growth nourished in love and faith?  Time for a soils test?

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: June 30 Edition

Romans 6:12-23
The 2nd Reading for Sunday
July 2 2017

12 Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. 14For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.15 What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, 18and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.20 When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. 22But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.    

    Independence Day!  A day dominated by fireworks, parades, patriotic sound-bytes, a few remarks on how fortunate we are not to be enslaved to repressive regimes, and a nod to our forebears who broke away from political and religious bondage to form “a more perfect union.” This is the day freedom is top of mind! In 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation provided another level of freedom in our land. We are struggling to find good ways to repair our immigration system so that we can continue to enjoin the world to “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”   
    This is the perfect day to ask ourselves, “What have we done with our freedom?” All earthly gatherings of people need laws and rules in order that the social contract—that trade-off of certain “freedoms” so that we can live peacefully together—is not broken apart. These days, we find ourselves trying to mend a fraying social order, even as the right and the left of both church and state (!) relentlessly play tug-o-war with the fabric of our laws and values.
Paul understood this need for law because he understood fallen human nature. We got into this dilemma near ‘day one’ when we decided we could frolic in the Garden without answering to anyone about anything! St. Paul was plagued with his process of “becoming” as he wrote in Romans 7:14-15, “For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”
How, then, do we experience being “dead to sin” as Paul says we now are through our participation in the death and resurrection of Christ? Partly by practicing the reality of who we wish to become (in this case, who we really are, by God’s grace). With the Holy Spirit residing within us, we have all we need to shed our old life of sin and put on a new life of obedience to God. 
Our salvation from sin and death does not mean that we can freely live our lives however we want. Paul warns more than once. “All things are lawful, but not all things are beneficial. All things are lawful, but not all things build up.” (1 Corinthians 10:23; see also 1 Corinthians 6:12). Our salvation means our allegiance, loyalty, commitment, priorities and love have been transferred from death to life!
The word “obedient” in this passage comes from two Greek words, one meaning “under” and one meaning “to hear,” understanding that obedience is hearing and placing ourselves under authority.  For us, that authority is Christ who is God.  But there remain many other seductive voices, many words and many calls for obedience.  Some of these lead us closer to God; other siren songs call us to obey voices that can mask or distort what God says to us.
Paul concludes this passage with a summary verse that juxtaposes the “wages of sin” with the “free gift of grace.” Bob Dylan sang, “You’re gonna have to serve somebody” and we cannot serve two masters. Joshua’s departing words to the Israelites (Joshua 24:15) remain words for us: “Choose this day whom you will serve!” St. Augustine once said, “Love God and do as you please.” If we love our Lord, we will be prone to do as he pleases.  And that is where we find true freedom.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: June 16 Edition

Genesis 18:1-15

An Alternate Reading for Sunday
June 18 2017

18The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. 2He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. 3He said, “My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant. 4Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. 5Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” 6And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.” 7Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it.8Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate. 9 They said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” 10Then one said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him. 11Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. 12So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” 13The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ 14Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.” 15But Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh;” for she was afraid. He said, “Oh yes, you did laugh.”

    There have been so many situations in my life that have called for patience, but I don’t know of any that rise to the level of the 24 years Abraham and Sarah waited for the fulfillment of God’s promise to give them a son (and - down the line - nations and kings!). Wisdom says that what we become while we wait for something may be just as important as the thing we await. But I’m guessing that, as Abraham and Sarah waited for this particular fulfillment, they probably rotated through the five stages of grief more than once.
    Some churches who join us in following the Common Lectionary will be reading this Genesis passage on Sunday. Because I am several years into my AARP eligibility, I was immediately struck by this story of what might be called “Sharing God’s Last Laugh!” I have been told that as we grow older, we begin to lose our sense of humor. There is some truth to that as things that were funny in our youth might now call forth something closer to wistfulness than laughter. On the other hand, with age comes an added lens to see the absurdity and the humor in so much of what those lacking the perspective of longevity still take so very seriously.
    So, hearing this visiting stranger reiterate the promise of a son within the year, Sarah is transported out of her usual cycle of grief and right into the world of bittersweet humor! “After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure (18:12)?” Seriously? Now that it is apparently too late, grace arrives? Have any of us ever asked that question, either through laughter or through tears? God’s loving response, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” is also our question. The way we respond displays whether we really believe God will act in our lives.
    Pastor Ben Patterson has written, “When Sarah laughs, she is laughing the laugh of a cynic ... She is laughing the laugh of despair that will not see anything but the ultimate incongruity of her life. Her long waiting has sapped her of her humor. Take surprise away from your sense of the incongruous, and all that remains is a bitter chuckle. That is why God’s response to Sarah has such force. When he says to her, “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” he is inviting her to have a really good laugh and let surprise back into her life. He invites us to do the same. It is only when our sense of the incongruity of our lives meets God’s great surprise of grace and promise that we are enabled to live our lives with the hilarity he intended. There’s a version of pop psychology whose slogan is ‘I’m OK, You’re OK.’ With the gospel, it is different: It is ‘I’m Not OK, You’re Not OK, But It’s OK!’”
    When Sarah finally realized that God wasn’t kidding, then she could really laugh! The harsh laughter of bitterness became the lilting laughter of grace and faith and surprise. To add irony to the story, these laughing old saints named their child Isaac which, in Hebrew means, “he laughs.” And so Sarah brings us all (God included) into the tent with her saying, “God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me (21:6),” and we all can have a great big belly laugh at the surprising and wondrous love of God!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .
The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: June 2 Edition

1 Corinthians 12:3b-13

The 2nd Reading for Sunday
June 4 2017

3Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says ‘Let Jesus be cursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; 6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.7To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.8To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses. 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.13For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

    The feast of Pentecost is the day we celebrate the manifestation of the Church in the world through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all believers. God’s Spirit not only empowers our ability to love and serve each other, but to proclaim by word and deed God’s grace and mercy to the entire world (verse 3).  St. Paul “coined” the term ‘Body of Christ’ and he employed the image to quell the dissension over leadership and identity in their ranks in the Corinthian church. The Holy Spirit is the one who creates one body out of all of us. As St. Augustine put it, “What the soul is to the human body, the Holy Spirit is to the Body of Christ, which is the Church.”
    What has happened to the Church in the ages since believers shared all things in common and there was no one needy among us?  Without the empowerment and guidance of the Holy Spirit and our willingness to be empowered and guided, the work God intends us to perform has no chance. Verse 7 provides a key to understanding the essence of the Church. The gifts, talents and opportunities the Lord provides each of us are not for our gratification, comfort or advancement (although that may happen) but for “the common good.” Political definitions and priorities for the common good are on a two-to-four-year cycle of priority but, if the Church flounders on biblical ethics and our moral compass, the common good suffers and the Body itself grows feeble and muted.  
    Christians participate first in a baptism of water, but at Pentecost we remember that we will grow up in the faith through various baptisms of fire!  Those flaming tongues were not only “foreign” languages; they were also the fires of purification and renewal.  It is the peace “that passes all understanding” that gives us the courage to face those profound challenges and deep hurts that come our way. Both our triumphs and our sorrows can only be mediated and moderated by the Spirit of God operating in our lives.
    The institutional church’s greatest challenge is to channel the work and power of the Holy Spirit for the common good in such a way that the Spirit is not quenched or its vessels shattered in the process.  Without teaching about and cultivating discernment so as to recognize the blowing winds of the Spirit, this isn’t even possible.  Thus the world has seen too many ruined churches and crushed followers as the bureaucracy of one church group or another appropriated and sought to control the work of the Spirit. Perhaps the watchword for today’s institution is the same as it was in Paul’s day as he counseled the Body in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21), “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good.”
    Every gathering of God’s people contains within it the gifts necessary to do the work to which God calls it (either gifts actively in use or yet to be awakened). As Jesus began his ministry, his Pentecostal words echoed the prophet Isaiah. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18).”  “Veni, Creator Spiritus” has been the heart-cry of believers throughout the centuries.  May we together experience God’s creator Spirit on this Pentecost Sunday, and, for the rest of our days, be God’s co-creators in ways God has entrusted only to you and me…for the common good and the health of our souls.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .
The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: May 19 Edition

John 14:15-21

The Gospel lesson for Sunday
May 21 2017

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.18 “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”

    “If you loved me…” How many times and for how many reasons has this exact sentence - or something like it - been thrown at you as yet another way you are asked to prove that you love someone? “If you love me, you would__(fill in the blank).” “If you love me, you never would have__(fill in the blank).” Who knew that even Jesus made this comment! “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (In John 21:17, speaking with Peter, it was “Do you love me?” “Feed my lambs.”) Between our weaponized, “If you loved me” and the Lord’s, there is a fundamental difference in intent. We want proof of love for our ego’s sake. Jesus wants to know that we aren’t just playing games with his salvation but, instead, are passing it on to those others he came to save.
    It is well known that the English language has a paucity of synonyms for ‘love.’ Sanskrit is said to have 96 words for it; Persian 80; Greek 3, but English only 1. And, oh, what burdens of meaning that one word has to bear! We can love a bean burrito and, in the same breath, we can proclaim our love for our children. The only way to differentiate among all our various ‘loves’ is by our actions, isn’t it?
    And so it is that Jesus tells us exactly how he will know of our love. And just as important for our fragile earthly selves, we can gauge our love for God by this same index. What have we done for God lately? If our love has grown cold or complacent, we should be able to read by our actions, decisions and intentions just what our spiritual temperature is. Do we need to fan the Pentecostal flames? Apparently, the way we begin to do that is precisely by keeping God’s commandments. Jesus says here that, as we do that, he will provide the Holy Spirit to abide with us forever. As the saying goes, “If you don’t feel near to God, ask yourself who moved?”
    Verses 15 and 16 are nothing less than a dance of love. With intent toward finding and loving God, we begin to act in Godly ways. God, in turn, blesses and strengthens us with the Holy Spirit who empowers us toward more Godly acts. And so the dance deepens as the spirals widen, bringing more and more of the world into God’s loving embrace. They will know we are Christians by our love and we will know we are Christians because God will make himself known to us as we love others.
    If we are keeping God’s commandments, we are always focused on love. Jesus summed up all the commandments in Mark 12:30-31: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
    Twentieth-century Jesuit priest, Pedro Arrupe wrote a poem that helps me take my spiritual temperature! Perhaps you will find it helpful as well as we each continue to participate in all that Love is and does.

Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.


e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .
The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: May 5 Edition

Acts 2:42-47
The First Reading for Sunday
May 7 2017

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

    Several months ago, I decided to have my DNA tested. I was fairly certain of the results although there were a few family tales that I wanted either validated or put to rest. It was fascinating to read about the many places on the globe that have gone into the creation of me! When I ‘return to dust,’ it will be international dust, to say the least!
    There is something about this passage from Acts that reminds me of genealogy because here we have a snapshot of the earliest community of Christians gathered around the leadership of the apostles. It was a heady time indeed! And this is what our early ‘family’ looked like:

  • They were devoted to the apostles’ teaching.
  • Their joy was to fellowship with each other.
  • They refused to neglect gathering together to break bread and to pray.

    And here is what happened because of these commitments:

  • Many wonders and signs occurred among them
  • They sat so lightly to their possessions in the face of ‘so great a salvation’ that no one in the community was left in need
  • Their praise of God and full hearts for all people attracted a daily influx of new members to their community.

    This is the church of our dreams, right? The church where everyone is “all in,” doing God’s work in God’s world, loving and serving one another and rejoicing as each and every day more people are attracted to Christ because of his presence and power manifested in his people.
    What this snapshot leaves out is also part of the church. There were a number of instances referenced elsewhere about embezzlement (Ananias and Sapphira), Paul’s endless admonishments to church communities regarding their conflicts and confusions, racial biases, bad leaders. In other words, while all the glory of following God was happening, the reality of our fallen-ness was happening right alongside it… the sheep grazing with the goats, the wheat growing up around the chaff, the sometimes maddening jumble of hearts learning together how to live out the newness so graciously poured out upon “them” (i.e., “us”).
    Rather than being the counter-cultural phenomenon it was at its beginning, today we find much of that sense of community has been lost as we live individually in a buffet-style world. We pick and choose what aspects of community appeal to us. Sadly, we also have our favorite approaches to the words of Jesus, letting us live more comfortably than God may actually require. And that has become our great loss because what this passage of Acts is describing is the work of the Spirit among believers. To the degree that we avoid or deflect the urgings of the Spirit of God, to that degree we miss out on the activity and the joy of living in the Spirit of God, the will of God, and the community of God. Living in a bubble of like-mindedness stifles growth and suffocates joy.
    In this short passage we are given a glimpse of what an encounter with the risen Christ can do to ordinary expectations of human community. As John reminds us (10:10), Jesus came that that we might have abundant life. And God promises us that he will never give up on his bride, his church (Philippians 1:6). How will embracing this Reality change us today? How will we channel the winds of God’s Spirit for the “goodwill of all the people?”

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 
602.319.0959 .
The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: April 21 Edition

John 20:19-31

Gospel Lesson for Sunday
April 23 2017

19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin*), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

    It would not be hard to dub Thomas the “Disciple of the Digital Age” for he certainly reflects the need for certainty that we need when faced with an internet of infinite “authorities.”  Whether it’s an authorization by that what we are reading online is not a fabrication, or a forensic conclusion that a bizarre photograph was not “photo-shopped,” we live in an era of necessary skepticism.  By the same token, we also live in a very credulous age where we are willing to believe anything that tantalizes or reinforces our favorite opinions.
    By that measure, Thomas is a realist who is longing (as we all are longing) for something we can see and feel, and hear and touch—something or someone who will make us new!  As a child once put it, “I want a God with skin on.” He is the object lesson that reminds us that we always run the risk of not recognizing Jesus until we reach out our hands in love and compassion to those around us. He is the truth of the old saying, “God has no grandchildren.” Someone else’s faith will never satisfy my soul.
    Many of us had Mother Teresa of Calcutta on our spiritual radar screens for decades. She served even non-Catholics and non-Christians as an exemplar of a holy life and one which must have been filled with great certainty…or so we thought. How else could she have done the rugged work with the poor and dying that she did for so many years? And yet, not very long after she died, we began to learn that Mother Teresa was a consummate doubter! She is known as a Christian saint who doubted, but persevered, whose dark night of the soul was not a complete blackout but a backdrop to the faith that she maintained and lived out. She is a contemporary example of how a Christian can doubt in the midst of a commitment to living a faithful life.
    Doubt is actually a boon companion to faith.  Mindless faith is what cult leaders promote and what Nazism required. Being unable or unwilling to doubt, question, evaluate and hesitate makes everyone a possible candidate for any seductive group or charlatan that crosses our paths! Without doubt in our repertoire, we all become fundamentalists, trapped in a certainty no longer grounded in the whole truth, losing track of God whose ways are not our ways and, most assuredly, surpass our understanding.
    Sixteenth-century mystic, St. John of the Cross, is famous for adding the phrase “dark night of the soul” to our spiritual lexicon.  Ironically, this darkness, as John and so many others have understood it, is a special signifier of God’s presence. In that merciful darkness, what we thought we knew of God is gone and in that abject absence, we come before God, finally empty of our beliefs and assumptions and ready for the real God to speak to our real selves.
    John did not share Thomas’ journey from skeptic to worshipper that we might have more facts, but that we, too, might believe. And to believe is to see and experience reality in a brand new way. This story is the climax of John’s entire book, his final anecdote (out of so many more he said he could have added) in an effort to bring all who are willing to the same declaration as Thomas: “My Lord and My God!”

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 
602.319.0959 .
The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: April 7 Edition

Philippians 2:5-11
2nd Reading for Sunday
April 9 2017

5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And, being found in human form, 8he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  11 and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 

   Jesus’ entire earthly sojourn, humanly speaking, amounted to a career path that spiraled from great expectations to apparent utter failure.  The Jewish community expected their “messiah” to be a temporal savior.  Even today, we sometimes wonder why God didn’t just do in his first arrival what he promises to do in the second…sweep in and mop up the remnants of evil and create a new heaven and a new earth for his whole creation to enjoy forever.
    Jesus spent a lot of effort trying to disabuse his followers about the sort of king and ruler he was going to become.  As he rode into Jerusalem on that donkey, it is hard not to see this as an ironic send-up of the triumphant arrival of royalty. 
    The reading this week from Philippians offers us a description of what Jesus did, which is at the core of what Jesus wants each of us to do.  And it is all about humility; fundamental self-forgetfulness. That donkey ride is a great symbol of “kenosis,” a theological term for the “self-emptying” that Jesus chose to do in order to be with us bodily as a man and yet as our God.  He could have entered the world stage as a great and glorious king (which he plans yet to do, in fact). But we would have missed the main point of this arrival.  He wasn’t in town to rescue anyone from Roman rule, but from the rule of Satan and all the powers of darkness.
    But in order to do it the way God wanted it done, Jesus humbled himself (in effect, put completely out of mind for a while who he was), took the form of a servant and became perfectly obedient even unto death in order to undo death!  This is our model even today.  Scripture reinforces this for us more than once (see, for instance, Matthew 23:12 or Luke 14:11): whoever humbles him (her) self will be exalted. 
    The original imago Dei has been perverted by the “fun-house mirror” of self-preoccupation into an image of ourselves “as like a god.” The enduring theme of so much of what Jesus shared with the world while he walked among us was that the first eventually would be last. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “The figure of the Crucified invalidates all thought which takes success for its standard.”
    Our original attempt to grasp divinity resulted in abject slavery. We abjured humility and adopted a stance of arrogance and so fell from having open, teachable spirits to a hardened “I am the captain of my fate” stance that has no room for grace, truth or a change of mind. Jesus arrived to restore the friendship with God we so foolishly threw away in our attempt to be God rather than to be with God.
    Jesus is asking us to empty ourselves of our futile attempts at self-fulfillment so that he can fill us to overflowing with his grace and truth. He cannot fill us up with him if we are full of ourselves. Jesus is asking us to use his power to empower others. Jesus is asking us to take another look at some of those people who, in worldly terms, have “come in last.”  When we find them, we might be very surprised to find Jesus already there waiting for us to join the festivities! In our heart of hearts, we have known all along we would find him among the last and the least because isn’t that where he found us?
    If we are to imitate Jesus, we know our career path—it is strewn with palm fronds—and we need to hold each other close as we follow him all the way to Easter.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 
602.319.0959 .
The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: March 24 Edition

John 9:1-41

Gospel Lesson for Sunday
Mar 26 2017

As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. 4We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, 7saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam (which means Sent).” Then he went and washed and came back able to see. 8The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.”12They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.” 13They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind.14Now it was a Sabbath Day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” 16Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. 17So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.” 18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight19and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” 24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.”25He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. 32Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind.33If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out. 35 Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” 37Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” 38He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshipped him. 39Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” 40Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” 41Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see’ your sin remains.”

   Victimhood. A game the whole family can play! To listen to the voices of our culture today, nobody is really responsible for their own situations.  It is our parents’ fault, or, perhaps the President’s, our boss’ or our neighbor’s.  Never ours! “The devil made me do it.” “I was tricked.” “This is not my fault.” Without a consciousness of our own sin, we can only believe that we are the victims of someone else’s. When we see the “other” among us (in this case, a blind man; but, these days, a person who is homeless, gay, an immigrant, or whatever we most fear), we tend to categorize these other ones as societal or political phenomena—groups of people who need to get their act together—not as individual children of God through whom his grace is meant to flow. We enjoy our free will, but in our fallen-ness, we are ever ready to question how others use theirs! Truth be told, we are all outliers and rebels from the perfection God desires and we will be to a greater or lesser extent until we see God face to face.
    Read what Jesus says about everyone’s misfortunes in John 9:3: “He was born blind (feel free to substitute your own troubling condition here) so that God’s works might be revealed in him.” Wow!  It’s not “all about us” after all.  It is all about God who loves us completely and does not inflict pain as punishment! As my favorite devotional writer, Oswald Chambers, noted, “We shall find that the spheres God brings us into are not meant to teach us something but to make us something.” Anyone who says following Jesus will take away our earthly troubles hasn’t deeply pondered this tale (or their own life)!
    It is very disturbing, yet very familiar, that this blind man was ever-present in the community as a beggar and yet no one “knew” him. He had become part of the backdrop of daily life and since he had been born “that way” there was no need to get involved in his plight. Can we honestly say we have never participated in that same social dimness of vision? Since we faithful ones are now light bearers (see Ephesians 5:8), we must choose to shine Christ’s light of grace and love into the lives around us or hide our light and cast shadows of judgment and gloom.
    As Lent draws us ever closer to a celebration of the resurrection, I would like to ponder, as pastor Suzanne Guthrie does, how to pay better attention

“…so that the whole of my life might incrementally draw me toward the kind of heightened sense that would recognize Jesus with bodily eyes or without. And looking forward to the stories after Easter, perhaps, like his friends after the resurrection, I might learn to recognize him in more obscure forms.”

    No one can see Jesus through our eyes, but they just might be drawn to him by seeing how we live our lives. Jesus told us in Matthew 5:16, “…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” The childlike, straightforward witness of this man born blind says it all: “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” Amazing Grace indeed!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 
602.319.0959 .
The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: March 10 Edition

John 3:1-17

Gospel Lesson for Sunday
Mar 12 2017

3Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews.2He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” 3Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” 4Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” 5Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ 8The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 9Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?11 “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 12If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17 Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

   Nicodemus came to Jesus in the dead of night, that in-between time when we often have our sleepless struggles with ourselves and with God. Nicodemus was a practical, logical man, a man on his way up and with authority to make things happen.  He came to Jesus asking a lot of “how” questions because that’s the way he was wired.  In the church of my youth, his questions would have been answered in formulaic terms…trying to fit cosmic questions into a one-size-fits-all response.  Jesus was keenly aware that Nicodemus’ questions had answers that were not quantifiable…answers about meaning, not achievement; faith not formula; identity not titles.
    Nicodemus asked questions that he (and we) hoped would be answered with clear achievable steps. Nicodemus thought he was going to have a theological discussion and instead was faced with incomprehensibles! Jesus responded with heavenly words only received as much by the spirit as by the mind and lived out by grace and faith sometimes with uncertain steps on unfamiliar terrain. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” God initiates our life; we do not give birth to ourselves no matter how many “makeovers” we have attempted.
    We “veteran” Christians might be lured into thinking we know all there is to know about Jesus, about God.  We’ve heard John 3:16 perhaps for decades, memorized it; maybe we have it needle-pointed and framed on a wall.  As with Nicodemus, God still asks us to set aside what we think we know and listen again to what he wants to tell us.  Romans 8:13 warns us that to live “according to the flesh” is certain death, but to live according to the spirit is life indeed. Luther was right, of course, that John 3:16 is the “gospel in a nutshell.” “For God so loved the world” not “for God was so angry with the world.” We begin not so much as sinners who are lost but as children who have been found.
    Dysfunctional families spend an enormous amount of time manipulating each other, setting up quid pro quos. “If you do ‘x,’ I will do ‘y.’ God, on the other hand, simply saw that we were broken and powerless and dying and sent his Son to fix it.  We cannot manipulate it, make it look like something it isn’t, or define the terms of God’s acceptance.  God has already saved us. Our response to God is not to manage our salvation but to bear God’s message of love for each one of us. Instead of setting boundaries based on our fallen perceptions, we need to remember John 3:17: “…God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world.” If we don’t accept his love, we judge ourselves and remain spiritually orphaned and homeless. In the face of this glorious love how can we not pay forward this great salvation?
    Being born from above is to be made part of a family for whom dysfunction is not the defining adjective! Being born from above means getting to do life differently, based on unbounded love rather than puny anxieties.  Who would not leap at a second chance to be not just a better person, but a brand new one? Re-boots and do-overs belong to our most gracious heavenly father and are God’s great gifts to us. If you got to begin again, what would your “new birth” look like? Seek and you will find out!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 
602.319.0959 .
The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: February 24 Edition

Matthew 17:1-9

Gospel Lesson for Sunday
Feb 26 2017

1Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. 2And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. 3Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” 6When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. 7But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.  8And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. 9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

   It must have been very hard to be impetuous, shoot-from-the-hip Peter. His response to his privileged presence at the “parting of the veil” was to build a shrine to capture the moment as though in amber. In the midst of his carrying on, a voice from a cloud broke through and asked Peter, James and John to be quiet and “just listen, already!”  And, to cap it off, Jesus told them not to say a word about their remarkable encounter until Jesus was resurrected (as though they comprehended that remark!). It cannot have been easy for any of them to be disciples of Jesus even though we sometimes envy them.  After all, they were walking and talking face-to-face with the Jesus we can only summon in our imaginations and our spirits.
    Dear Peter often provides a cautionary tale about our human foibles!  As with any spiritual experience that pushes credulity, we are liable to do just what Peter did. No one can dispute that the church has made a few too many “booths” out of the faith, many times domesticating and containing the sometimes overwhelming movements of the Spirit. We can use even the holiest string of words to garble and blunt the ineffable. When that voice from the cloud told Peter, in essence, “Please just stop it and listen,” those are words for each one of us.
    My “busyness” can be as much about blocking out God’s voice as responding to it. That’s why God sometimes tells me (in a twist on the old saying), “Don’t just do something, stand there!” After I stop running on my hamster wheel, I am able to see more clearly and respond authentically rather than merely react. In his book Out of Solitude, Henri Nouwen wrote, “In solitude we become aware that our worth is not the same as our usefulness.”
    We are right to be cautious about ecstatic spiritual experiences because not all of them end well.  “Test the spirits” (1 John 4:1) in order to receive true spiritual riches, not counterfeits. But by no means should we decide to avoid even the hint of the unexplainable in our spiritual lives or we will miss all those “thin places” as the Celts called them, those translucent junctures where this world and the next come closest to being one. Those are the places where we are most able to see God for who God is and to be transfigured ourselves in the process!
    The moment of transfiguration is an obvious tableau of Jesus as the fulfillment of everything Moses trekked to his mountaintop to receive, including all of God’s glory. With Moses representing the law and Elijah the prophets, Jesus stands with them as the ultimate fulfillment of their missions. And placed where it is in our readings, it is a clear bridge between the light of Epiphany and the dark road of Lent we are about to travel with our Lord.
    The essential things we need from God are not things we read in “How to be a Christian” manuals.  They are provided “by revelation” (Matthew 16:17). So, if we stay in the flatlands and avoid the mountainous treks, we run the risk of missing God’s transfiguring moments, which, for us as for Jesus, are signposts and supports along the Way. After their time of being still and listening, Jesus finished the message to his disciples, then and now: “Get up, don’t be afraid and, now, let’s get moving!” Off the mountaintop with you! Even though he knew he was descending only to arrive at a hill named Golgotha to be lifted even higher, he enjoined his friends and followers to walk with him… down to the valley where his work - and ours - is waiting.  The moments of transfiguration God graces us with are lights for the journey through our valleys. And we will shine like the children of light that we are, trailing clouds of glory as we go.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 
602.319.0959 .
The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: February 10 Edition

Matthew 5:21-37

Gospel Lesson for Sunday
Feb 12 2017

You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder,’ and ‘Whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ 22But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. 23So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. 25Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. 26Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
 ‘You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’28But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.
 It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
 Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ 34But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37Let your word be “Yes, Yes” or “No, No”; anything more than this comes from the evil one.*

   If the Israelites thought the Ten Commandments were difficult to obey, what about the uber-obedience of the heart that Jesus requires?  It is not all that difficult to appear righteous, upstanding and obedient, as long as no one can listen to our thoughts or suss out our true intentions, right? I remember Jimmy Carter’s famous (and, to the biblically-challenged, perplexing) comment, “I have committed adultery in my heart many times.” Admitting our fallen and “temptable” state should be a no-brainer, but we know it takes courage and humility to admit to being, in St. Paul’s term, “a mere man.”
    A key thing the Law and Jesus have in common is that they both focus on how we handle relationships, whether with other people, other nations, or with the earth itself.  Eugene Peterson declared his conviction that “… the church will continue to decline on the left and become rabidly rigid and rule-bound on the right, until we realize that the gospel is not about rules…it is about relationship.” As Gandhi reminded us, in a world of “an eye for an eye,” all are eventually blinded.
    From a Christian perspective, we know that no amount of good legislation will accomplish what only the redemptive power of God can work in the human heart.  We look at the Ten Commandments with fear and trembling and then read this passage and throw up our hands as if to say, “Now, I am really in trouble.”  And, of course, yes, we are all in big trouble because without the Holy Spirit operating in our hearts, not only can we not hope to live in this redemptive, restorative way, we won’t even want to try! Jesus came not to abolish the law (Matthew 5:17), but to fulfill it. Its fulfillment is abundant life for all, even for those who may not be seeking God (see Matthew 5:45 or Luke 6:35)! Now that his Spirit has written these laws on our hearts, they can permeate our intentions and our actions in a radical obedience, simply not sustainable without God’s help.
    No one is capable of perfect adherence to the law, but God is concerned with the intention of the heart, even when we sometimes miss the bar. While not committing murder or adultery may make me feel good about myself, I need to know that is a very low bar indeed, especially if in the very next breath I commit a “character assassination” at work!  One day, with true hearts, our “yes” and our “no” will be spoken with no reservations or irony. 
    Matthew 23:27 and its metaphor of the ‘whited sepulchre’ is perhaps the quintessential definition of hypocrisy. That sort of duplicity did not end with the last living scribe or Pharisee!  It continues in some way or another in each of us. In 2006, when the Amish folks in Pennsylvania extended almost immediate forgiveness to the man who shot ten of their children (killing half of them), the entire country was taken aback, as much by the forgiveness as by the atrocious act that called it forth.  How different from the usual cries for vengeance. But they are the first to tell you that they work on this forgiveness each and every day.  They extend it by faith and live courageously into the promise of restoration.  And that is how our hearts are converted.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 
602.319.0959 .
The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: January 27 Edition

Matthew 5:1-12

Gospel Lesson for Sunday Jan 29 2017

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

   Micah, Old Testament prophet that he was, still nailed the essence of the gospel: “…do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with God.” What have we done with this simple (not easy!) mandate?  We have allowed it to be taken over by political parties and pundits who have become ersatz theologians, instructing the rest of us on how to define justice in the world. Micah has God lamenting our injustices, beseeching an answer from us… “What have I done to you?” What has God done to elicit such fickle behavior from his children?
    We may have to actually become those who mourn, who are powerless, who hunger and thirst and are poor in order to find out exactly what the blessing is that God is offering in Matthew 5:1-12.  It is a bit more obvious to perceive the blessings derived from mercy, purity and peace because we expect to be rewarded with righteousness when we seek and live it. But very few of us actively seek the experiences associated with grief, poverty, persecution or injustice. How then, can Jesus teach his followers that those of us experiencing these sorts of dire circumstances are actually “fortunate”  or “honored” (for those are perhaps more accurate words than “happy” for the Greek word makarios ordinarily translated as “blessed”)? 
    The answer contained within the question is the kingdom of heaven. This is God’s foundational message for all time; his kingdom is the last word; his kingdom is now, not “pie-in-the-sky,” and our citizenship in that kingdom gives us the strength, courage and perspective to persevere and, yes, even to rejoice, in the midst of seeming calamity. These “beatitudes” are actually grand declarations of the hope of the gospel and the guarantee that our hopes have been and will be fulfilled in Christ. This is the gospel that turns everything we expect upside down so that we can actually feel deeply blessed even as we mourn, sense our kinship with Love itself as we seek peace with ourselves and everyone else. Each statement both describes a gospel posture and then the reward that yields in our relationship with God and God’s kingdom.
    Here’s the thing: Jesus did not expect something of us that he didn’t expect of himself; he knew he would be persecuted for righteousness’ sake.  He knew we would be as well if we were faithful. These blessings or declarations of our good fortune were given to us before we had a chance to earn or achieve these states of being. We are not being exhorted to do anything to earn a blessing, but to be something that only God by his grace can empower us to be—and therein lies the blessing.
    Jesus proclaims blessing on everyone, whether we are mourning right now or not…poor or rich, meek or full of ourselves—however we find ourselves in any given moment.  In fact, God probably wants to bless us more than we want that blessing! But once we experience God, we will have a great desire to share God with someone else.  Williams Sloan Coffin once invoked this blessing; may we take it as our own:

May the Lord Bless you and keep you.

May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.

May God give you grace not to sell yourselves short,

Grace to risk something big for something good,

Grace to remember that the world is now too dangerous for anything but truth, and too small for anything but love.

May God take your minds and think through them.

May God take your lips and speak through them.

May God take your hands and work through them.

May God take your hearts and set them on fire. Amen.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 
602.319.0959 .
The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: January 13 Edition

John 1:29-42

Gospel Lesson for
Sunday Jan 15 2017

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming towards him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ 31I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.” 35 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, 36and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!” 37The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.38When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.41He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). 42He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).

   Throughout my career, I have been impressed with how important titles are.  They determine salary, responsibilities…even whether you get a window cube or an office! And we all know that, from the outside at least, titles and perks can sometimes seem inconsistent or undeserved. In this week’s Gospel, John announced Jesus’ title/identity and, later in the reading, Jesus announced a new and symbolic name for Simon… Peter. And yet, John himself eschewed all titles but one…he was a ‘Voice in the wilderness.’  That title would not even get you a desk in any office I can imagine! As a matter of fact, John could not be less 21st century as he proved by his later declaration, “He [Jesus] must increase but I must decrease (3:30).” Explain that part of your resume to your next potential employer! Yet, in Kingdom terms, that is the precise definition of a Christian leader and, in fact, of any of us who have met “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” and follows the heavenly mandate to share that fact.
    When Jesus asked two of John’s disciples (who—upon hearing John’s declaration of Jesus’ identity—began to follow Jesus), “What are you looking for?” their response is provocative. They didn’t say, “Well, as a matter of fact, we’re looking for you, if you are the true Messiah.” Nor did they request “eternal life” or tips on “how to be a perfect Jew.’”  Instead, they wanted to know where Jesus was staying. Pretty intimate question, actually, and not the first thing we ordinarily ask a new acquaintance. I think this spirit-inspired question was weighted with a lot more than an inquiry about his local address.  There are few more basic requirements to sustain life than a place to stay… to be.  So, when these folks asked him where he was staying, I think they were asking for an address for themselves, hoping they would find a true home there.  And, of course, Jesus delivered the answer of relationship and intimacy…“Come and see.” What he offers us also, even before we know enough to ask! 
    This is the kind of God we truly want, right?  He did not exact correct doctrinal adherence before they could see where he lived; there was no hint that perhaps they should put on better clothes before their visit.  All he offered was (and still is) an open invitation to come and see. Knowing Jesus, he was hoping that, after they saw, they would stay.
    Ever since humanity was banned from our first home and sent “east of Eden,” we have been wandering in search of a place to be.  We have created all sorts of ersatz abodes…titles, achievements, serial relationships…all in an effort to find our true home. Jesus bade us “Come and see” and, for those of us who did and who stayed, perhaps “come and see” are the only words we need to offer others if our lives reflect the life of Christ. As St. Francis reputedly said, “Preach the gospel always; if necessary, use words.” As the gospel chorus puts it, “They will know we are Christians by our love”…not our titles.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 
602.319.0959 .
The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: December 30 Edition

Matthew 2:13-23

Gospel Lesson for
Sunday Jan 1 2017

13 Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, 15and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I have called my son.’ 16 When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. 17Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: 

18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
        wailing and loud lamentation,
             Rachel weeping for her children;
   she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”

19 When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, 20Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” 21Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 22But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. 23There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.” 

   The saying, “God draws straight with crooked lines” is no more evident than while reading about this journey that began with “the flight into Egypt,” that purposeful season of exile before Jesus got to go home. I don’t think we have much concept of what it would be like to live under any of the five despotic Herods who populated the years of Jesus’ life. And yet, this is the very time God had in mind to bring his salvation into the world.
    Our preparations for Jesus’ birth are usually filled with excitement and anticipation (and a bit of holiday preparation fatigue). What we don’t want to intrude on this season is unpleasantness of any sort.  But Jesus’ entry into the world was filled with it because Jesus was entering into the fallen, death-dealing culture that we still inhabit to this day. What is certain is that with Jesus’ entry onto the world stage, the culture of death has met its match and the lights are being turned on in the kingdom of darkness!
    This season can still be the most difficult season of the year. Many remember those dear to them who have passed away; others realize that they are completely alone during this oh-so-family-oriented holiday time.  It is no wonder the suicide rate peaks even as most of the rest of us are wrapping packages and receiving guests. But this is precisely where Jesus belongs; the holiday season is a season of grief as well as joy, both in his day and in ours. We still have our slaughter of the innocents, whether it happens in Newtown, Connecticut, or Darfur in the Sudan.  And in a very short time after we merrily receive the infant Jesus, we will see him nailed to a cross—the very slaughter a power-mad Herod so desired.
    Theologian Stanley Hauerwas wrote, “Perhaps no event in the gospel more determinatively challenges the sentimental depiction of Christmas than the death of these children. Jesus is born into a world in which children are killed, and continue to be killed, to protect the power of tyrants.” A somber mood during the festivities is perhaps not so out of place after all. Once again, Jesus is our example, carried ‘helplessly’ by his parents through his own treacherous season as a refugee. As we follow the Lord’s sometimes circuitous paths we too can find ourselves on an unexpected road, feeling at times like a foreigner in a very strange land.
    The angel/messenger from God told Joseph to get up and go home for those who sought to kill Jesus were themselves dead (v. 20). The journey home was in sight! For us too, every principality and power that seeks our life has also been rendered just as powerless by the power of Christ. The path we are on with God—the path that is at times so bewildering—is the only way to get to our true home, the one from which our fallen nature has exiled us!
    Every ‘flight into Egypt’ God may ask us to take has a reason and an end. And he guides us every step of the way.  He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). We may face our dreaded version of Herod, but we can join the writer of 1 Chronicles 16:31: Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, “The Lord is king!”

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 
602.319.0959 .
The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: December 16 Edition

Matthew 1:18-25

The Gospel Lesson for
Sunday Dec 18 2016

18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him ‘Emmanuel,’ which means, “God is with us.” 24When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

    The fate of us all turned on—of all things—a dream! An angel appeared to Mary while she was awake, and Joseph had to rely on an angelic dream visit to help him decide the fate of Mary, the child and the world itself!  And then, of course, he had to swallow the “virgin birth” aspect of his situation. I wonder which was harder to digest, the angel or the angel’s news? The first Adam and Jesus (called “the second Adam”) both came into the world through God’s direct intervention.
    The secular world looks upon all of this as a myth and, by myth, they mean fiction.  But the original meaning of the word “myth” is that it is a vehicle to convey deep truth.  It was precisely this view of myth that brought C. S. Lewis to faith in Christ! J. R. R. Tolkien instructed his friend Lewis that the use of myth was perhaps the best, if not the only, way to begin to communicate otherwise inexpressible truth. Lewis later wrote that Christianity was the “true myth” supplanting and completing every other story of our origin and destiny.
    Angelic visitations, whether they occur during sleep or during the day, are foundation-shifting occurrences that not all of us have had the honor of experiencing. But in one way or another, every child of God has had some experience of our faith transporting us out of the way the world appears and into the way the world really is, from God’s point of view.  And that certainly includes wild, improbable happenings like those we encounter throughout scripture!  Our faith is not so easily divided into the every-day rationalist, materialist slog from Monday till Saturday and then sixty minutes of other-worldly super-reality on Sunday morning.
    By one count, there are twenty-one different stories in scripture where a dream is the main vehicle in a story with major consequences!  In fact, Joseph was the recipient of four of the five dreams recounted in Matthew’s gospel regarding Christ’s birth and childhood. 21st century rationalistic sensibilities find this all discountable and easily explained away as projections of our unconscious. Who needs dreams or angelic messages about children if you have the entire internet universe to guide you? To rely on a dream rather than objective fact or observable circumstances is foolish and wrong-headed… or so say those who have not had any encounter with God and God’s ways!
    Imagine going to bed one night convinced of a course of action, only to awaken the next morning after a very troubling-but-convincing dream that radically changed your mind. Joseph chose to adopt a stance of faith and patience as he waited, first for nine months for Jesus to be born and, then, for years after as Jesus grew up and began to live into his mission.  And since Joseph isn’t heard from much after “Christmas” in scripture, we don’t even know for how long he was part of Jesus’ life or if Joseph died too young to really see the fruit of his faith!
    Two parents—each bearing a dream—came together to birth and nurture their dreams and ultimately ours as well!
    Because Joseph believed his dreams, our whole world is being made new. “When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him… (v. 24).” What kind of dreams are you having these Advent days? Can you believe them?

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 
602.319.0959 .
The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: December 2 Edition

Matthew 3:1-12

The Gospel Lesson for
Sunday Dec 4 2016

In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, 2””Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3 This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, ‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness; Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’ 4Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, 6and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Bear fruit worthy of repentance. 9Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor;’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 10Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

   It is amazing what a mere punctuation mark can do to a sentence.  We are accustomed to hearing Matthew 3:3 as “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘prepare the way of the Lord.’” But if we revise it just a bit, we are offered an enhanced perspective: “The voice of one crying: ‘In the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord.’”
    America’s law books contain The Wilderness Act of 1964 which defines “wilderness” in part as a place “…in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, [and] is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” This earth is indeed not our final home (Hebrews 13:14 and 2 Peter 2:11-12). As long as we remain on this parched and fallen landscape called earth, we will be wandering and navigating in and out of wildernesses, geographical, relational and spiritual. And everyone to whom we share the love of Christ will be receiving our words from a wilderness of their own.
    John was the lone billboard in this ancient wilderness, announcing the arrival of the one who would bring at once great judgment and great joy.  To follow him and experience that joy, there must be heartfelt, soul-deep repentance and a metanoia, a turning around on our path to head in an entirely new and divinely-appointed direction. No one can simply say “I’m sorry” and yet continue on in the same dead-ended direction and call that conversion!  But we need help to see our new path. Most wildernesses are uncharted; many don’t appear even on Google Earth, but there is a perfectly calibrated compass for the wildernesses in which we find ourselves… Jesus the Christ.
    The metanoia that John speaks of is a word for us when we get complacent in the faith, when we think that being “sons and daughters of Abraham” will somehow shield us from any wrath to come.  It is a perilous thing to become a pew-warmer in the house of God! As Annie Dillard shares so graphically, “It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews.”
    John makes it clear from the beginning that the fruit of our lives is the evidence of our commitment. This passage seems awfully harsh as we approach Jesus’ humble entrance into the world but, to paraphrase Lutheran pastor and teacher David Lose, we dare not end up preparing for Christmas rather than for Christ. Jesus the Christ comes with open arms and a winnowing fork.  Justice tempered with mercy.  We are the ones who decide whether we fall into his arms or onto that fork!
    As we traverse and seek to leave our wildernesses, be encouraged by the fact that Christ walks beside us and, if we reach for his hand and listen to his voice, he will lead us on a safe path out. Someday, every wilderness will be a place of absolute peace as the vision in Isaiah 11:1-10 so lovingly shows us.  In our Advent time filled with shopping, eating, drinking and partying, try to find an empty, wild, perhaps untended place in our hearts where hope for our deliverance can flourish, even as a flower in the desert…or a shoot from the stump of Jesse.   

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .
The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: November 18 Edition

Luke 23:33-43
The Gospel Lesson for
Sunday Nov 13 2016

33When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’]] And they cast lots to divide his clothing. 35And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” 36The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine,37and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” 39 One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

   I would lay odds that most of those who shy away from Christ or his Church do so because of what C. S. Lewis called “the problem of pain.” All kinds of reasons are offered…science versus “myth,” the inconsistency of Christian witness across denominations (and by individuals), the apparent discrepancies in Scripture and on and on.  But if you dig a bit deeper, there is very often some unaddressed and unrequited pain in life that seems to morph into impenetrable barriers to a relationship with any so-called deity who might conceivably allow such suffering. If we are honest, we’ve had our own spiritual tantrums (not unlike Job’s in Scripture) where we demand that God either explain himself or leave us alone.
    In Luke’s passage for Sunday, Jesus is on the cross, flanked by a criminal on either side of him with mockers and gawkers nearby. An ironic sign has been affixed to the top of Jesus’ cross, “This is the King of the Jews.” The Jews actually saw the fulfillment of scriptural prophecies in Jesus’ arrival on the scene, but he kept deflecting any idea that the temporal king they desired was the king God intended to give them. No wonder they were infuriated and often raged against him.  The most telling line in this passage comes from one of the criminals in verse 39: “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” Isn’t that what each of us really wants?  We may not easily admit that only God can save us from ourselves or our pain, but when he doesn’t do it (at least in our time and our way), we can sure join the jeering throng in a hurry.
    While so many mocked his alleged “kingship,” one of his crucified companions admitted that for him and his friend, “…we are getting what we deserve for our deeds.” He recognized that in Jesus he had met an innocent man. So while human justice was being meted out, divine justice was operating as well.  Jesus inaugurated his kingly reign right from the cross as he granted this sinner (who saw Jesus for the ultimate king he was) a place with him that very day in Paradise! A royal pardon he waits to grant each one who asks.
    It is a daunting thing to consider taking up a cross and yet we each bear one, willingly or not.  It is the cross of our fallen humanity which plays out uniquely for each one of us.  When that criminal in verse 39 asked for salvation, he was asking for a respite from the punishment he had earned.  Jesus had something so much better in mind for him as he does for each of us. This man, with nothing to lose and eternity to gain, was given grace to pierce the veil between “King of the Jews” and “King of Heaven” and received the answer to our plea that God’s kingdom come to us on earth as in heaven.
    We are members of what Peter described in 1 Peter 2:9 as “a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people.”  With that comes our mandate to proclaim his mighty acts because we have received his great mercy (verses 9-10). Our king demands great things from his followers, but he also rides with us into each of our battles. We are Christ-bearers, carrying his banner into battle to defeat evil and inaugurate his glorious and everlasting kingdom. And as Solomon (Song of Songs 2:4) proclaimed, “His banner over us is love.”

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .
The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: November 4 Edition

Luke 6:20-31
The Gospel Lesson for
All Saints Sunday
Nov 6 2016

20 Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22 ‘Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 23Rejoice on that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. 24But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. 26 Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets. 27 ‘But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.29If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

   The Golden Rule. We’ve heard it all our lives as a homespun admonishment about how to act toward others. Luke 6:31: “Do unto others…” Yes, the marching order for the saints of God! Luke’s bare-bones version of “The Beatitudes” is an ironic twist on what our human nature would consider the definition of being blessed! In Matthew, we are blessed if we are poor in spirit. In Luke, we are blessed if we are poor. Period. In Matthew, we are blessed if we hunger and thirst for righteousness. In Luke, we are blessed if we are just plain hungry. We are blessed if people hate us, exclude, revile or defame us because of our faith. And all those who are rich, well-fed, loved and admired now are in great peril… for this may be all they get! And, yes, this is considered Good News!
    God does indeed have what the church has termed “a preferential option for the poor,” a special seeking and serving of those in distress on earth. Whatever we do for the least of those among us, we do directly for Christ (Matthew 25:40). As many missionaries have observed, it is very difficult to talk about the love of God to someone who is starving or shivering or begging for shelter. As we know from the life of Christ, God completely engages with his children even before they realize they are His. So, to be beatified (blessed) is to be one of God’s saints and, to be one of his saints, is to be a blessing for others.
    The old adage “There, but for the grace of God, go I” is what we might murmur as we pass any person, place or thing that we fear could befall us. Yet, all of us are paupers and lost souls until we find our rest and peace within the loving and redeeming arms of God. And once there, God’s Spirit energizes us to go forth and bring others into that same grace-filled fold. If we cannot see ourselves as poor and hungry and naked and afraid, what would motivate us to fall to our knees with grateful hearts? What common ground would we ever be able to find with those we are called to serve? On his deathbed, Luther is supposed to have said, “We are all beggars. That is true.” And yet he also believed we are all priests to each other and the world.
    Theologian Bruce Epperly wrote, “Today, we need the vision of saints. Greed abounds; individualism carries the day; violence is beneath the surface; fears abound, and earth is in the balance as we face the realities of global climate change. We need to claim our humble role as saints, healers of the earth, for our time and place.”
    There have been many saints in my life…people who took time to listen to me or to offer a bit of advice or hang with me through a rough patch. Sainthood isn’t about having certified miracles under your belt. It is about communicating to the world and the person next to you—in thought, word and deed—exactly what you have received from Christ.
    Who are your saints? Who has helped to shape your life? Who is out there redeeming our world? As an old English hymn concludes, “…for the saints are folk like you and like me, and I mean to be one, too.” What kind of saint is God calling you to be

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .
The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: October 7 Edition

Luke 17:11-19

The Gospel Lesson for
Sunday Oct 9 2016

11 On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. 15Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

   In the endearing way of Luke, this Sunday’s passage showcases that, once again, it is the Samaritan in the story who “gets the message!”
    All ten lepers called Jesus “Master,” which, heretofore, in Luke had been a designation only the disciples had used. When Jesus spoke healing words to them and instructed them to go to the priest for the examination that would lead to their reintegration into society, they all obediently set forth! And it took faith to do it because they were not healed until they were on their way! So, before we write off the nine lepers as among the ungrateful, we should note that they did exactly as Jesus instructed. 
    What separates the tenth leper, the “foreigner,” from his friends is not the healing, for all were healed…at least physically.  It was his deeper appreciation and gratitude for a healing that he realized had transcended the merely physical. Even the original language indicates that this one also experienced spiritual healing and he returned to thank and praise God. Jesus informed him that his faith had made him well, using a word that means “saved.” He had been made very well indeed!
    Many in the recovery community, when feeling out of sorts, drop everything and create a gratitude list. It is primarily a tool of remembering because we get so used to our comforts and privileges that we forget the ‘attitude of gratitude’ that should surround and inform our days. Perhaps the nine who obediently took off for the priest simply felt they had been given their due and now they could get back to their “real life,” not stopping long enough to experience any of the feelings that would ordinarily attend a healing…praise, joy, thankfulness…. If we haven’t felt any of this lately, perhaps it’s time to stop in our tracks and begin our own “thank God” list. Each new day is sheer gift but, so often, we approach it with dread instead of with God, an assumption of entitlement rather than a posture of thankfulness. A short poem by R. S. Thomas expresses this superbly,

“I have seen the sun break through to illuminate a small field for a while, and gone my way and forgotten it but that was the pearl of great price, the one field that had the treasure in it. I realize now that I must give all that I have to possess it. Life is not hurrying on to a receding future, nor hankering after an imagined past. It is turning aside like Moses to the miracle of a lit bush, to a brightness that seemed as transitory as your youth once, but is the eternity that awaits you.”

    John Milton said, “Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” It would be so much easier to notice all that is gratitude-worthy if we were not so very rushed and over-scheduled, under-rested and over-committed. A slogan from my ‘Youth for Christ’ days (penned by C. T. Studd) went like this, “Life is short; ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” What is done in and for Christ arises from our grateful hearts in response to (as James 1:17 puts it) the Giver of every good gift

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .
The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: Sept 23 Edition

Luke 16:19-31

The Gospel Lesson for Sunday
Sept 25 2016

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. 24He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ 25But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. 26Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ 27He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— 28for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ 29Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ 30He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”

   The prosperity gospel has confused people about the crucial difference between doing good and doing well. Being rich is absolutely no barometer of anything beyond, well, being rich. It is not a sign of righteousness; it is not even a sign of superior intelligence. It just is. And it, like everything else, happens to the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45)! The other inevitability that doesn’t change based on net worth is that we all die, rich or poor. And no one takes anything with them beyond the legacy of our lives to present to God.
    As Luke tells it, the poor man has a name (Lazarus) and the rich man does not. In our world, it is evermore the opposite. The ‘great unwashed’ remain nameless because to know their names is to begin the painful, converting process of empathy! And empathy is the mortar that bridges the chasms of class, race, and all the “isms” we use in our impossible search for peace and safety!
    Luke is illustrating here the unbreachable chasm we create by the cumulative acts that form our hearts. This is not easy reading for the soft-hearted among us who would like to think that patterns of selfishness will be forgiven post-mortem with God’s “There, there, now, it’s alright” even without any intention of remorse! The entitled one in this story is clueless even after death as he persists in treating Lazarus like his inferior, requesting from him a drink of water even as he fries in the flames of his own selfishness. The rich man asks for water, but not the water of life; he wants mercy but without paying the price of repentance.
    It isn’t enough to feel bad for the poor or even to think of your guilty conscience as somehow redemptive. The poor are still poor; the hungry are still hungry; the homeless are…and on and on. The chasm that has been fixed between heaven and hell has its origins in the chasms we create on earth to separate us from those we can’t or won’t see as our kith and kin. Even with those who have little or no interest in lending a hand to others, there still remains some degree of concern for immediate family as evidenced by the rich man’s concern for his brothers. But, as the story plays out, it is quite clear that the rich man was “hard of listening” about mercy and justice. Even now that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, too many remain in a self-induced state of stubborn denial.
    Have you ever seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul? Those ancient Egyptian tombs littered with riches, petrified food and amulets are evidence that we can’t take a thing with us into eternity. It will just be each of us, alone before God, but in the background will be a crowd of witnesses—both rich and poor—as testaments to our tender hearts or our self-destructive ‘heart problem.’ 1 Timothy 6:10 warns that an eagerness to be rich (which usually also means an unwillingness to be generous) leads to all sorts of radiating pain; the consequences begin with the wealth-seeker and spread out into the world in a spiral of parsimony and heartlessness.
    We who believe what God says in his Word and in our hearts are children and heirs of that One who owns everything and shares it with abandon. Others will choose to place their hopes on the uncertainty of earthly riches. Who will ultimately be destitute? Moses, the prophets and Jesus have words for us. Will we listen?

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .
The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: October 21 Edition

Luke 18:9-14

The Gospel Lesson for
Sunday Oct 23 2016

9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector. 11The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector. 12I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’13But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

    I grew up in the free-church tradition and ‘free’ (sometimes ‘free-wheeling’) is a good descriptor. When I discovered liturgical worship and the set prayers (prayers that had been prayed untold numbers of times through centuries by the faithful around the world), I was overjoyed. They were like old, treasured books that you want to read again and again. My Baptist friends told me these were examples of “vain repetition” but I found nothing vain in either the words or the experience of praying those carefully-crafted words. Unlike the rambling pastoral prayers I endured as a child, these love letters to God are not veiled parish prayer lists, or sanitized newsletters made to feel like prayers instead of announcements!
    I am having a hard time not picturing the super-sized hubris of some political candidates as I read this Pharisee proclaim the many ways he is superior to absolutely everyone else on the planet! Politicians aren’t praying when they proclaim to be in a class by themselves because their frame of reference is no wider than themselves and their constituencies. It is for God to decide if such self-assessments are accurate. Similarly, it seems to me that the Pharisee isn’t praying as much as testifying to his own importance and fully anticipating God’s applause at the end!
    How ironic it is that God prefers the much-loathed tax collector’s humble self-assessment and plea for mercy rather than the recited resume of righteousness offered for all to hear by the puffed-up Pharisee. Frankly, I couldn’t be more relieved that God prefers that approach because it is the only one I have to offer. The version of Scripture called “The Message” nails it with the wording used in Romans 12:16: “Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.”
Eventually, we each must make our own confession that we too have stood where the Pharisee stood and proclaimed ourselves better than any number of other people, be they the indigent poor who we feel are draining our economy or the obnoxiously amoral who we believe are destroying society. Each of us from time to time can forget that we are all sinners and, without repentance, we will perish (Luke 13:3). All have sinned. All fall short (Romans 3:23). Nothing pleases our Father in heaven more than when we acquire a realistic view of ourselves and are able to stand before God, not on the basis of our own merits, but because of the saving grace of Jesus Christ who brought us home to our Father.
    Back to well-worn prayers, there is a prayer from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer called “the prayer of humble access” usually prayed prior to the reception of Communion. It is drawn from Matthew 8:8 and Mark 7:28 and begins like this: “We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy…”
When we pray, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” we have removed the need for both self-accusation and self-justification. Our lives are “hid with Christ in God” and the burden of self-proclamation is gone! Gone too is the need to compare ourselves to anyone other than Jesus who alone grants us the power to be who we are meant to be.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .
The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: Sept 13 Edition

Luke 15:1-10

Gospel Lesson for Sunday Sept 15 2019

15Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, ‘This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ 3 So he told them this parable: 4Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance. 8 ‘Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

"I once was lost"

   When I was a kid, the lost-and-found department at our grade school consisted of a cardboard box, usually filled with one lonely mitten, a school book, a lunch box or a winter scarf (I didn’t live in Phoenix at the time!). God’s lost and found (or perhaps better named God’s “sin and grace” department) was created, as Paul wrote in Philippians 1:4, “before the foundation of the world.” Thinking about these “lost and found” parables of Jesus, I remembered a petition in the Book of Common Prayer that says,

“I ask your prayers for all who seek God, or a deeper knowledge of him.
Pray that they may find and be found by him.”

    In this week’s gospel, Jesus has once again found himself surrounded by those he came to save, including a crowd of righteous judgers who evaluate his every action. The action that particularly galls these folks is his fellowship with sinners, as though—other than Jesus— there were any non-sinners in the vicinity! I understand why Jesus would prefer the company of these enthusiastic outsiders to that uptight, rules-bound bunch of sourpusses. I am guessing that this crowd of “tax collectors and sinners” understood in a deep and present way that they were lost, while the “scribes and Pharisees” had forgotten or repressed that feeling, navigating their days with only a sense of entitlement and arrogant orthodoxy. 
    In strictly financial terms, these parables make little sense. One sheep is worth 99% less than the flock abandoned to the wilderness and one coin is only one-tenth of the total value of this woman’s savings. Clearly the value implicit in these stories transcends monetary concerns. These are tales of finding lost souls, each one valued as highly as the very life and death of Jesus Christ! They are also stories of the journey and the work we each must undertake, away from our “comfort zones,” into the places we would rather not traverse to seek people who, humanly speaking, we might rather not find!
The story of a lost sheep and the story of a lost coin are stories of God going momentarily insane in his efforts to find each one of us. The shepherd is a bit loony risking his 99 sheep over just one more. The woman seems a bit OCD in her efforts to scour her house for one lousy coin. But here’s the thing. Any parent recognizes this relentless earnestness on their child’s behalf. If there is any kind of “lostness” with your child, whether from drugs, or bullying, or just garden-variety childhood fears and insecurities, you will leave no stone unturned in efforts to find and save and heal your child whom you love with that bottomless parental love that sometimes defies good sense! (Or maybe, it actually, defines good sense.)
God has been looking for us ever since Eden. Sometimes, even after we’ve been found, we can feel like we’ve lost our way again. But God has found us and will never let us go. He keeps us in the safest place there is: his heart (Colossians 3:3). “I once was lost, but now am found.” May we never forget what that felt like when it happened to us! And, by the way, God needs you to join his search and rescue party. All his kids haven’t been found yet.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191.

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website.

Weekly e-Devotion: August 30 Edition

Luke 14:1,7-14

Gospel Lesson for Sunday Sept 1, 2019

14On one occasion when Jesus* was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the Sabbath, they were watching him closely.
7 When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. 8When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; 9and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place.10But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher;’ then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” 12 He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Table Manners

   “Food, glorious food!” So sang the malnourished urchins in the musical “Oliver!” Most of us are drawn to banquets. Perhaps it’s because food we didn’t have to prepare is provided; often it’s because of the chance to see and be seen, to dress up a little, to be with people we would like to know better. And scripture is loaded with references to banquets, wedding feasts, and a last supper. 
    Weave into the banquet imagery the threads of social justice, humility, mercy, table-turning (a gospel favorite!) and, suddenly, a banquet could become a food fight! Jesus warns guests not to make assumptions about their place at the table. Not that they don’t have one, but that their overweening self-centeredness or their painful lack of self-esteem might end up revealing more about themselves than they intend. For don’t we insecure humans often confuse the social construct of ourselves for the reality of who we are? Look at your social media profiles and the choice of what you post (or don’t post) on Facebook and you might begin to see a slight fissure between who we want others to admire and who we privately know is not exactly that fantastic!
But Jesus does not just caution the banquet guests. He takes on the hosts as well. And, of course, we are both guest and host in our various ways and so this is not the time to look away! When we throw a party we have in mind the people we would prefer to include and often some very specific people we would rather exclude. We often have reasonable excuses for it! We’re trying for a good mix…we don’t want a political free-for-all…we need an even number…that person drives me nuts…etc. What does Jesus do? He takes our guest list and rips it to shreds! Just as we prop up our identity on our preferred or assumed place at the table, so too does our core identity peek out behind those we allow at our tables. Family, friends and important contacts? Maybe another time. Jesus wants us to be about kingdom-building and, to do that with mercy and grace, we are going to have a radically different guest list… the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind (v. 13), perhaps the politically or even religiously ‘other.’ And we may not even have a good time (the reward for our generosity, humility, even bravery may be deferred until we arise on the other side of this life). But if we did have a good time, did it not feel like grace?
As Hebrews 13:2 reminds us, “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” And sometimes we do know it.
When I look around during our times of Communion, I feel particularly close to my fellow congregants. I may not know some of the people I notice, but I often experience a real sense that we are part of a Body that is so much more than what we see before us. The Lord’s Supper is a time when the veil is parted for a moment and the heavenly banquet—with all the multitude of guests we may not have expected (or much wanted!) are gathered together to worship the One who gave us the ability and the desire to welcome all who are willing to join us at the Table. There is a seat reserved for you! And those seated around you will be a delightful, graceful surprise! Come hungry.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191.

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website.

Weekly e-Devotion: August 16 Edition

Luke 12:49-56

Gospel Lesson for Sunday August 18, 2019

49 “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! 51Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52From now on, five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” 54 He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’ and so it happens. 55And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’ and it happens. 56You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”

Family Values

   There is a whole lot of division in this country right now. In fact, there is a whole lot of division around the world on almost every front. The American family has been shredded in recent years over so many traditions called into question. The Jesus we see in this passage is not the meek and mild Jesus that comforts and consoles. This is Jesus channeling some of the Old Testament refiner’s fire of His Father. No status quo will be spared; no uneasy peace will be left on its shaky legs. Jesus wants to knock it all into a cocked hat! And in this passage, he is like a race horse constrained before the starting bell. Right now, few would refer to him as a prince of peace.
    As much as we might like to interpret this in purely spiritual terms, the family unit is the basic political unit in any society. We learn how to treat people in our families. We learn basic economic principles in our families. The ethical decisions we make later in life have their roots in decisions made or observed in our families during those years that originally formed our consciousness.
Jesus is upset that his followers know how to predict the weather so that their earthly needs will be protected, but apparently deficient in understanding the winds of the Spirit and how to catch that tailwind into the Kingdom of God!
The story of Edith Stein, converted Jew and Carmelite nun during the Nazi era, is a story of just how deep the family fissures can run, as hinted at in this excerpt of her biography by Waltraud Herbstrith:

“Christians themselves often have trouble understanding the value of a contemplative vocation; for the Steins it was an impossibility. The day came when Frau Stein asked her daughter, “What do you plan on doing with the sisters in Cologne?” When Edith answered, “Join them,” peace at home was a thing of the past. Everyone in the family felt crushed by the tragedy. Edith herself clung to her friends to keep from faltering in her decision; her mother, not daring to display her anger openly, wept in desperation; the brothers and sisters did all they could to change their sister’s mind. … To the eighty-four-year-old Frau Stein, it seemed as if her daughter wished to desert her just at the moment when Jews in Germany were undergoing bitter persecution. Edith Stein recognized the impossible nature of the situation. She knew there was no explanation that would satisfy her mother. Her friends and colleagues came forward with sympathy and advice, but they could not help her.”

    That is the depth of the divide that Jesus came both to call out and to mend. That is but one example of the unutterable rifts and fissures and sorrows of this life. It is no good just telling each other that God is love and all will be well. We have work to do; we have some serious weather forecasting ahead of us. 
    What do you need to do next to throw some holy fire on your family division? Because after the fire has done its work, the healing waters of baptism can take over!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191.

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website.

Weekly e-Devotion: August 2 Edition

Luke 12:13-21

Gospel Lesson for Sunday August 4, 2019

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” 16Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ 18Then he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich towards God.”


   I have a confession to make. I need a bigger closet. There. I would say, “Don’t judge me,” except that, frankly, I judge myself on this. I wonder how many people in how many other countries have issues like overstuffed closets? As the rich man said, shortly before God called him to account:

‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry (vv. 17-19).’

    Whether it’s clothes, or cars, or food or (fill in the blank with your entitled “need”), we all have a greed issue! The Church has long recognized greed as one of the deadly sins (think soul-suffocating). In fact, some theologians posit that the Ten Commandments are referring to things that can all be predicated on a form of greed! If we are full of things, we have no room left for God who wants to give us more than we can ask for or imagine. Wordsworth said it well, “The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spendingwe lay waste our powers.” 
    This whole “buy bigger barns” mentality is the mentality of scarcity rather than abundance. It is the prosperity gospel run amok. It is to forget everything Jesus ever said about mission, ministry, the poor, the widows, the orphans, or our own hollowed-out selves seeking to fill our souls with trinkets. It is not about whether by offering to others out of our abundance we suddenly become the needy ourselves. Rather, it is about our warped sense of entitlement: perhaps it isn’t God’s world altogether; perhaps some of it really is mine, all mine. It does indeed take a conversion of the heart. It takes faith in a God who told us in Hebrews 13:5, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’”.
Frederick Buechner wrote, “Avarice, greed, concupiscence, and so forth are all based on the mathematical truism that the more you get, the more you have. The remark of Jesus that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35) is based on the human truth that the more you give away in love, the more you are. It is not just for the sake of other people that Jesus tells us to give rather than get, but for our own sakes too.”
As The Rev. Dr. Janet Hunt suggests, “… while I don't imagine that worry about 'having enough' in this life will ever fully leave us, if we could but allow ourselves to be shaped by the question of what it means to be 'rich toward God' in our own lives and in our life together, perhaps our 'wealth' might just begin to accrue where it really matters.”
Where are your treasures?

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191.

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website.

Weekly e-Devotion: July 21 Edition

Luke 10:38-42

Gospel Lesson for Sunday July 21, 2019

38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” 41But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things;42there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

The Faces of Hospitality

So. Is Jesus telling Martha that Mary has chosen what is always the ‘better part?’ Or is he (more realistically) telling Martha that because Jesus is there with them at this particular juncture, Mary has discerned the better part for this situation? Scripture is funny that way. Or perhaps we are funny that way. Something that is situational in scripture can so quickly morph into a universal mandate because of how we read the word of God.

What I see in this story of Jesus and his interactions with Martha and Mary is not so much that Martha is not paying attention to the right things and Mary is; rather, Mary is—at that moment—personifying what God wants from each of us… rapt attention and contemplation of God and God’s words to us. Social roles and even religious activity are secondary to our willingness to abandon ourselves into the arms of God and allow him to shape us like a potter shapes clay (Isaiah 64:8) into the man or woman he intends us to be.

Mary and Martha are dimensions of the same Christian experience. We have a Martha and a Mary living together in our hearts and souls… a learner and a doer, a contemplative and an activist, much-loved sisters who live together in the same house! With that in mind, this story raises a question for me about how I prioritize my time between receiving from God and giving to others what I have received! A 4th century desert monastic, Abba Silvanus, wrote, “Martha is necessary to Mary, for it was because Martha worked that Mary was able to be praised.”

Jesus’ visit with Martha and Mary was a respite on the road to his final act of obedience and love for us on the cross. In that light, I think he was not so much rebuking Martha for doing something of lesser importance as he was urging her to understand that in the short time he had left to fellowship with them, perhaps the dishes could wait until later. He was urging her back into community and back into relationship with him—a relationship where no amount of “doing” makes any difference to our God who loves us with wild abandon and exactly as we are.

The one thing we need, Jesus tells us, is to sit down and get to know him (v. 42). When we entertain friends, the conversation is as crucial as the meal; in fact, the meal is often the excuse for the conversation!  I imagine Jesus feels the same way when he seeks out our friendship. A simple meal of bread and wine will suffice if it brings us into his presence where he can speak to our hearts and send us back into the world renewed and empowered for service.

And then, as theologian Gerhard Forde once said to his students to help them understand their freedom in Christ, “What are you going to do, now that you don’t have to do anything?” Well?

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191.

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website.

Weekly e-Devotion: June 21 Edition

Luke 8:26-39

Gospel Lesson for Sunday June 23 2019

 26 Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. 28When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me”— 29for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) 30Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” He said, “Legion;” for many demons had entered him. 31They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss. 32 Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned. 34 When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. 35Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. 3636Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. 37Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.


   Arizona is replete with “haunted” hotels. Jerome, Bisbee, Phoenix…you name the town and there will be a story or two. What the hoteliers say is that you are more likely to experience a ghost if you are expecting to see a ghost. Otherwise, you will probably be unaffected by any lurking apparitions!
    We Christians have mostly adopted that same attitude about demons and how they interact (or not) in our contemporary world. Is it mental illness or demonic interference? If we expect demons, we will see them. But something fundamentally disordered the “nameless” Gerasene to the point that only God could bring him back to himself with a fundamental cleansing and re-ordering of his identity.
The demoniac called himself the Latin name "Legion," referring to a company of up to 6,000 Roman soldiers (that’s a lot of mental ‘company’ to keep!). This strongly suggests a deliberate link between the exorcism of the evil powers occupying the demoniac with acts of Roman oppression. The demons' preference for pigs is because of the animal's negative association in Judaism. The association of a Roman legion with a herd of pigs was a priceless piece of irony (Jeffrey John, The Meaning in the Miracles, p. 86). This story, then, becomes an artful mashup of how spiritual oppression mirrors the systemic oppression by the secular powers-that-be in all times and in all places.
We understand when someone is considered “out of their mind” that the person he or she was meant to be (was created in God’s own image to be) has somehow become distorted or shattered by a chemical imbalance, a series of traumatic events, or something else. We see how desperate people can be when everything that they consider to be parts of their identity—their homes, their families, their country—is taken from them. While some call them “criminal” in their reactive distress, others perceive—beneath the surface—the call of Jesus to help bring each one back into a right mind, a renewed and resurrected spirit and, thus, their true identity.
When Jesus began to interact with the Gerasene, he demanded to know the names of the demons. You can’t heal a disease if you don’t know what it is. We might profit from spending some time thinking about the demons in our own lives, in our communities, and in our country. To name those things that tear at our identity (that make us do, as St. Paul lamented in Romans 7:15 what we don’t want to do); to name these devilish entities is to ground them, to take them from the ghostly realm into the rock solid here-and-now where we can face them with the power of God as both shield and sword.
As Jan Richardson put it in her blog, The Painted Prayer Book, “He (the Gerasene) must have found it suffocating at the least to live with such an interior crowd, to never be able to turn off the constant clamor and press; the fracturing and fragmentation that left him unmoored and unhinged. He took to the graveyard, making his home among the tombs in a living death. And then one day Jesus came, and asked, “What is your name?”
And he was healed and knew himself again in peace and wholeness. That is our hope and God’s promise to us.
Isaiah 43:1 reminds us of one of God’s many promises, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”

   e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: June 7 Edition

Note: During the season of Pentecost, which comprises most of the church year, we will attempt to highlight a character trait or mindset that seems to float to the surface of one of the week’s readings. It is our character that is re-formed through our discipleship, after all.

John 14:8-17(25-27)

Gospel Lesson for Sunday June 9 2019

 8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”9Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”


   The first post-resurrection Pentecost wasn’t about speaking in tongues; it was about employing our tongues to speak as witnesses to the transformational power of God! It was less about reducing Babel to rubble than it was about finding ways to share the love and power of God with all who stubbornly re-construct Babel in every generation.
    Even as Pentecost was a Jewish celebration fulfilled and reconstituted by the Holy Spirit at one pivotal moment in time, there have been Pentecostal events, movements and testimonies before and after this episode of God’s power that we memorialize each liturgical year! Psalm 104:4 reminds us that “You [God] make the winds your messengers and flames of fire your servants.” Not only are there powerful stories of the outbreaking of the Spirit of God within Scripture itself (several times in the Book of Acts alone!), the timeline of church history is replete with outpourings of His grace and truth. Think of the medieval monastic tradition (the main light shining in the dark ages!), The Reformation, The Great Awakening….
Pentecost is the day we specifically recognize as the end of that period of ‘waiting for the Spirit’ that the disciples were instructed to observe on the day of Jesus’ Ascension. Pentecost is the day we are given the wherewithal to take on The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Pentecost is the day that speaks Godly courage into a cowardly heart!
    In Sunday’s gospel, we hear Jesus give us fair warning that Pentecost is not a stand-alone event! Hearing John 14:12, we might become a bit faint because if we are to participate in even greater deeds than were wrought by Jesus himself (which, remember, included raising the dead, for heaven’s sake!), what in the world might he ask of us?! And how does anyone prepare for such an assignment? Jesus anticipated our fear, reluctance, and doubts (verses 26-27). The Holy Spirit of God is the empowering genesis of all that we would do and, along with that, Jesus’ own peace and courage is bequeathed to each of us.
Instead of hiding in the upper room of our anxieties as though Jesus had yet to appear to us, this day is a clarion call to lay down the loaded arms of our fears and open receptive arms to accept God’s Spirit and, with it, his call on our lives. Gail Ramshaw wrote, “…God arrives in ‘a sound like the rush of a violent wind,’ and fire appears, not on the top of a holy mountain, but on the top of each believer’s head.”
Have you had a Pentecostal moment? Is there a time (or perhaps several times) when you knew the power of God was upholding you or walking with you as you took a big step in your adventure with Him? Tell me this: Is your life being rekindled? Is your hair on fire?

   e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: May 24 Edition

John 14:23-29

Gospel Lesson for Sunday May 26019

 23Jesus answered him, ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me. 25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. 28You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.”

    During the 60s when everyone brandished the ‘peace sign’ with abandon, there was little or no peace, either internationally or in the American culture. Some might argue that this lack of domestic peace was actually a necessary ingredient to foster the social changes that had been brewing beneath the apparently calm surface of the 50s. That may be true, but we are now into the next century and 50+ years later there is still very little peace, and most of the same issues and inequities abound.
    The peace that Jesus came to give us has very little to do with the kind of peace that the world offers. We are used to a peace that is kept with an armed militia and the ironically named “peacekeeper missiles,” or the kind of peace we keep in our families by not talking about the herd of elephants in the living room. This is ‘peace-ish’ and it actually festers and ulcerates the soul. It is peace-on-the-cheap and it is unsustainable. We suffer daily from all the false peace in the world and in our hearts.
Even the great Pax Romana was only maintained militarily by preemptive invasions of any territories considered potential threats. Sometimes I fear that we actually long for a Pax Americana on those same terms. Terrorism only fuels our quest for “peace and safety” at almost any cost. (Read 1 Thessalonians 5:3 to see what happens when our first desire is for this kind of peace.)
Closer to home, we are experiencing a crisis of authority around keeping the peace in our communities. Police officers, commissioned as peace keepers if not peace makers, are now in the crosshairs of our increasingly violent society. We have lost the ability to fight with words and our first inclination is to shoot first and never ask any questions later.
On the individual level, the old chorus “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me” is a song we can sing only with our fingers crossed, for we know better than to place much hope in ourselves as the arbiters of peace. We feel the weight in our souls from the age-old war of good and evil, of selfishness and surrender, of truth and falsehood, of measuring up (or not) to the endless list of the world’s glittering demands. Without that miraculous peace of Christ, we become the seedbed of anything but peace. No amount of yoga, meditation, jogging, or aromatherapy will shield us or heal us from our anxious un-peace.
Jesus’ peace is not something for which we strive, but a gift we each are given, which is the first fruit of the indwelling of God’s Spirit. God’s peace is our foundational knowing that God is with us and for us, in union with us and that neither you nor I can be removed from his presence. This is the entrance to joy! This is what empowers God’s people to go out into a very un-peaceful world and do God’s work, planting little pockets of peace wherever God sends us. We may have to water these plantings with our blood, sweat and tears, but the peace that God gives never gives way as we faithfully sow the seeds of God’s kingdom.
As the prophet Jeremiah extolled (6:16), “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths; ask where the good way is and walk in it and you will find rest for your souls.”
May the Peace of the Lord be always with you. And also with me.

   e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: May 10 Edition

Psalm 23

Psalm Reading for Sunday May 12 2019

 1The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; 3he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. 4Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil;
   my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

    David, who penned this Psalm, had already failed both at being his own shepherd and charting his own course. When the prophet Nathan confronted David, this shepherd/king came face-to-face with himself and chose to submit to his true Shepherd. David thereby learned to courageously follow so that, one day, he could humbly lead. When he wrote “The Lord is my shepherd,” it was a statement borne of great mistakes and real repentance. And David’s shepherd (our own shepherd as well) gave him everything he needed.  Needed, not wanted. This is a most difficult concept to grasp in 21st century America where, by and large, we have a hard time telling the difference between need and greed in the midst of our incredible bounty.  Our sense of neediness is in direct proportion to our forgetting that Jesus is right beside us and his Spirit dwells within us.
    As inveterate consumers, yet children of God, we can choose to fend off the forces of greed with a commitment to share our wealth, not stockpile it. Our daily bread, like the manna God doled out to his children in the wilderness has a very brief shelf life.  Sometimes we find our hands grasping the things of this world so tightly we cannot release the grip even to take God’s hand. Philippians 4:19 directly echoed this Psalm when Paul declared, “My God shall supply all your need.” The more accurate Hebrew rendering of “I shall not want” in this psalm is “I shall lack nothing.”  Jesus confronted the rich, young ruler as he confronts each of us: “One thing you lack…sell what you have (redeem your priorities) and come, follow me (Mark 10:21; Luke 18:22).”
Left to ourselves, we will wander the malls and mazes of life, losing our way at every turn while unwittingly looking everywhere for the only One who can save us from ourselves.  Shepherd Jesus employs a rod to guard us from our enemies and a staff to gently guide us along the paths that are right for us.  He asks not for blind obedience but radical trust… the trust of a sheep, the trust of a child.  He faithfully provides for us even when we sometimes refuse his provision.  When we buck and kick like maddened sheep against our lot in life, it could be that we are not so much saying God isn’t there or doesn’t care as we are complaining that God isn’t doing our bidding!  Regardless, goodness and mercy will not just follow us, but will lovingly track us!  The ‘Hound of Heaven’ will pursue us down the “nights and down the days.” Our shepherd, who leaves all his sheep long enough to find each lost one of us, will outrun even our attempts to find what we determine to be a better pasture. 
For God to shepherd us, we must learn to hear his voice. He knows what we need and when we need it. He knows what we have done and what it has done to us. He wants to lead us out of the bramble bushes we have made of our lives. “Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” They also rescue, protect and lift us up out of the morass that a self-led life will create. And if we follow awhile, our good and gracious shepherd will lead us in paths of righteousness. May we—souls restored—joyfully echo what a little child once recited, “The Lord is my shepherd. That’s all I want.”

   e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: April 26 Edition

John 20:19-31

Gospel Lesson for Sunday April 28 2019

19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”  24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. 

    This Sunday we hear the story of “doubting Nance!” Actually, it is the story of each one of us (and if we have never had doubts about any of the biblical message, we have probably not been paying attention). John has a few passages in his gospel where the curtain is drawn back and Jesus speaks directly to the audience…down through the millennia…bringing each of us directly into his cast of characters. In verse 29 he says to us, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” That’s us, folks! Thomas asked for a chance to see with his own eyes and that request was honored. We, too, have been given eyes of faith to see the redemptions both large and small that occur all around us each and every day. But the eyes that see aright are the eyes of the heart, not the eyes in our heads. (Matthew 13:16) The Eastern Orthodox call this ‘standing before God having placed your mind in your heart.’
    It has been said that we don’t really engage with the biblical stories until we have entered into the stories as tales about us, not ancient peoples in foreign lands. Frederick Buechner elaborates on this in this excerpt from a sermon published in his book Secrets in the Dark:

    “Eight days after Jesus' first appearance to the disciples, John says Jesus came back to them again in the same room, and this time Thomas was with them. Again Jesus said "Peace" to them. Then he turned to Thomas and spoke only to him as if there was no one else in the world just then who mattered, and you can imagine the two of them standing there looking at each other with maybe no more than an oil lamp to see by and their shadows flickering on the wall. Less as a reproach the way I hear it than as an enormous kindness, Jesus said, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not be faithless, but believing." It was an extraordinary thing for him to offer, but it is as though Thomas didn't even hear him. It's as though maybe for the first time in his life it wasn't just the fact of Jesus that he saw but the truth of Jesus and the truth of who Jesus was for him. In light of that truth everything else became suddenly unimportant, and there was no need to touch him with his hands to make sure he was real because suddenly Thomas was so moved by the reality he was experiencing within himself that all he could do was to say something that I suspect he said in a whisper…"My Lord and my God!" He had seen him with the eyes of his heart, and there was nothing more he could say, nothing more he needed to say. Can we imagine ourselves into that part of the story? Have we ever even come close to seeing the truth of Jesus the way Thomas did just then?”

    The name “Thomas” is a Greek word meaning “twin.” In the case of this Thomas, we never encounter his twin. Unless, of course, each one of us is that twin—we who so often doubt even when we most want to believe; we who need just one more piece of evidence before we can commit….
    But, thanks be to God! John did not write his gospel that we might have facts, but that we might believe! And believing is suddenly to see in a whole new way. Doubt and faith are companions on our journey, but it is only after encountering Jesus with the eyes of our hearts that we can fall on our faces and finally gasp, “My Lord and my God.”

   e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: April 12 Edition

Luke 22:14-23:56

Gospel Lesson for Sunday April 14 2019

14 When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. 15He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. 21But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. 22For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!” 23Then they began to ask one another which one of them it could be who would do this. 24 A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. 25But he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. 27For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. 28 “You are those who have stood by me in my trials; 29and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, 30so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 31 “Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, 32but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” 33And he said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!”34Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me.” 35 He said to them, “When I sent you out without a purse, bag, or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “No, not a thing.” 36He said to them, “But now, the one who has a purse must take it, and likewise a bag. And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one.37For I tell you, this scripture must be fulfilled in me, ‘And he was counted among the lawless;’ and indeed what is written about me is being fulfilled.” 38They said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” He replied, “It is enough.” 39 He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. 40When he reached the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.” 41Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, 42Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” [[ 43Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. 44In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground.]] 45When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief, 46and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial.” 47 While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him; 48but Jesus said to him, “Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?” 49When those who were around him saw what was coming, they asked, “Lord, should we strike with the sword?” 50Then one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear.51But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. 52Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple police, and the elders who had come for him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs as if I were a bandit? 53When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness!” 54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house. But Peter was following at a distance. 55When they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. 56Then a servant-girl, seeing him in the firelight, stared at him and said, “This man also was with him.” 57But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” 58A little later someone else, on seeing him, said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” 59Then about an hour later yet another kept insisting, “Surely this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.” 60But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about!” At that moment, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. 61The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62And he went out and wept bitterly. 63 Now the men who were holding Jesus began to mock him and beat him; 64they also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” 65They kept heaping many other insults on him. 66 When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, gathered together, and they brought him to their council. 67They said, “If you are the Messiah, tell us.” He replied, “If I tell you, you will not believe; 68and if I question you, you will not answer.69But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” 70All of them asked, “Are you, then, the Son of God?” He said to them, “You say that I am.” 71Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips!”
23Then the assembly rose as a body and brought Jesus before Pilate.2They began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man perverting our nation, forbidding us to pay taxes to the emperor, and saying that he himself is the Messiah, a king.” 3Then Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” He answered, “You say so.” 4Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no basis for an accusation against this man.” 5But they were insistent and said, “He stirs up the people by teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to this place.” 6 When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7And when he learned that he was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him off to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. 8When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had been wanting to see him for a long time, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him perform some sign. 9He questioned him at some length, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11Even Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then he put an elegant robe on him, and sent him back to Pilate. 12That same day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other; before this they had been enemies. 13 Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, 144and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him.15Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16I will therefore have him flogged and release him.” 18 Then they all shouted out together, “Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!” 19(This was a man who had been put in prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) 20Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; 21but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” 22A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him.” 23But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. 24So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. 25He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished. 26 As they led him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. 28But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29For the days are surely coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ 30Then they will begin to say to the mountains, “Fall on us;” and to the hills, “Cover us.” 31For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” 32 Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. [[ 34Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”]] And they cast lots to divide his clothing. 35And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” 36The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, 37and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38There was also an inscription over him, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’ 39 One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” 44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last. 47When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, “Certainly this man was innocent.” 48And when all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they returned home, beating their breasts. 49But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things. 50 Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, 51had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God. 52This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. 54It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning. 55The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. 56Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments. On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

   Was there anyone around Jesus during those last days that did not betray him in one way or another? Arguably, those wondrous women who held vigil as he died remained his friends, but other than them…anybody? It doesn’t appear that Jesus had too many who remained faithful to the end. Regardless of which gospel is read during the Sunday of the Passion, there are moments when it is embarrassing, squirm-inducing, and terribly sad to listen as, one-by-one or sometimes in whole groups, his “friends” take a hike before things get any more dice-y. Peter flakes out, Pilate wimps out, and Judas sells out. Assuming Jesus was operating in his “fully human” mode right then, he had to have been broken-hearted at his friends’ defections and a bit uncertain about what impact he had actually had during his three years of active ministry and witness. Thankfully, his “fully God” self also knew that these disappointing actions by Judas, Pilate, and even Peter would be caught up in the redemption of the world and used by God for our salvation.
    We, too, play many roles in these narratives; we are fully able to say ‘Hosanna’ one minute and ‘Crucify him’ the next! James 3:10 exposes our duplicitous souls: “Praise and curses come from the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, this should not happen!”
A moment’s reflection will make it abundantly clear that we are both tortured and the torturer, depending upon the day and the circumstances. And so Jesus rescues us from being tortured and heals us from being torturers. Or, that is the intent of his sacrifice for us if we accept it and do the soul work needed to allow his work to flourish within us. We are Peter, Pilate, and Judas as often as we are blameless innocents. But being a follower of Christ, we know this and we know who our Redeemer is.
What we must do is continually pray our version of that amazingly selfless prayer Jesus prayed from the very wood of the cross. “Father, forgive me for I mostly don’t know what I’m doing.” Thank God that he saves us from ourselves as much as from anything or anyone else! If we were hanging on that cross, we would be praying fervently for our own deliverance. Jesus prayed for his enemies who put him there. May we grow in grace so that we, too, might pray for those who hate us with as much fervor as we do for those who love us. Jesus taught this by word and example long before he exhibited it in extremis (Matthew 5:44, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”).
Jesus went through hell to save us from that same fate. We are both “as guilty as hell” and redeemed and made new. We long for the day when our overwhelming violence will finally succumb to God’s overpowering love. As Daniel Migliore wrote, “God’s way of life is greater than our way of death.” And so, we cry, “Hosanna!”

   e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: March 29 Edition

Psalm 32

Psalm reading for Sunday March 31 2019

1Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,
   whose sin is covered. 
2Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in
whose spirit there is no deceit. 

3 While I kept silence, my body wasted away
   through my groaning all day long. 
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
   my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
5Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
   and I did not hide my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
   and you forgave the guilt of my sin.
6Therefore let all who are faithful
   offer prayer to you;
at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters
   shall not reach them. 
7 You are a hiding-place for me;
   you preserve me from trouble;
   you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.
8 I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;
   I will counsel you with my eye upon you. 
9 Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
   whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle,
   else it will not stay near you. 
10 Many are the torments of the wicked,
   but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord. 
11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous,
   and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.


   Lent is mostly behind us, yet the disciplines of the season remain for us as spiritual tools to assist us in building a lasting relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. However, the most basic activity that builds any relationship we want to foster is the activity of conversation—praying and meditating with God. And conversation implies a back-and-forth, not simply a recitation from us to placate a distant God’s demands. Rather we serve a Lord who loves us and died for us so that he could remain in communion with us for all eternity! Adam and Eve walked and talked with the Lord until sin entered the picture. God missed them post-serpent visit, calling out, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9)
    Psalm 32 talks about the blessedness that falls to the person whose sins are forgiven, who is guided by God’s loving eye. And what happens without that back-and-forth intimate conversing with God? Verse 3 sums it up this way, “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.” When the psalmist gave up and gave in to God, there was rejoicing, gladness and lightness of spirit. The New Living Translation renders Philippians 4:6 this way, “Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”
Many of us are hesitant to pray about small things; we are shy about praying aloud with our friends; we may feel we don’t have the right words, or we might display some misunderstanding about God that others would judge. There are so many fear-fed reasons to avoid talking to our Creator. Many others have never known how many kinds of prayers and petitions have been recognized and encouraged throughout Christian history. In these ecumenical days, I would like to share a segment from the Episcopal Catechism on Prayer because I think the ways of prayer can give us clues to widening our conversation with God so that we can come closer to the scriptural mandate to pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17).

Prayer and Worship

  1. What is prayer? Prayer is responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words.
  2. What is Christian Prayer? Christian prayer is response to God the Father, through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
  3. What prayer did Christ teach us? Our Lord gave us the example of prayer known as the Lord’s Prayer.  
  4. What are the principal kinds of prayer? The principal kinds of prayer are adoration, praise, thanksgiving, penitence, oblation, intercession, and petition.
  5. What is adoration? Adoration is the lifting up of the heart and mind to God, asking nothing but to enjoy God’s presence.
  6. Why do we praise God? We praise God, not to obtain anything, but because God’s Being draws praise from us.
  7. For what do we offer thanksgiving? Thanksgiving is offered to God for all the blessings of this life, for our redemption, and for whatever draws us closer to God.
  8. What is penitence? In penitence, we confess our sins and make restitution where possible, with the intention to amend our lives.
  9. What is prayer of oblation? Oblation is an offering of ourselves, our lives and labors, in union with Christ, for the purposes of God.
  10. What are intercession and petition? Intercession brings before God the needs of others; in petition, we present our own needs, that God’s will may be done.
  11. What is corporate worship? In corporate worship, we unite ourselves with others to acknowledge the holiness of God, to hear God’s Word, to offer prayer, and to celebrate the sacraments.”

May our prayers rise like incense (Psalm 141:2) and may our relationship with God flourish in holy conversation. Amen.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: March 15 Edition

Philippians 3:17-4:1

Epistle Lesson for Sunday March 17 2019

17 Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. 18For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. 19Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21He will transform the body of our humiliation so that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself.
41Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.


   God gives us what we need for what comes next. What if what comes next is the announcement that your citizenship is in heaven? Is it? I pay taxes in the United States. I was born in Iowa. I have a particular political persuasion. But I have dual citizenship and sometimes that creates some fundamental tensions as I seek to be a good citizen in both realms. For the requirements and responsibilities as a citizen of God’s kingdom are often at variance, if not at outright conflict, with the kingdoms of this world.
    I love road trips. I love new scenery, different accents, new perspectives on our country. But I also love to return to my own home, bed, and routines. Unlike the vagaries of being in a new place, I can walk around my house with my eyes mostly closed and not run a big risk of running into a surprise wall or piece of furniture!
    However, there is a home that is more home to me than any other home I have inhabited and I have yet to see it! Each of us who claims Christ will only really feel at home when we say “goodbye” to this world and go to meet our Lord in his kingdom, where “all things will be made new” (Revelation 21:3-5) and we are given keys to a heavenly mansion.
    Meanwhile, we juggle our citizenships. We know that in God’s kingdom, no child will go to bed homeless or hungry; no community will be shattered with a spray of gunfire, and no person will feel as though they don’t belong exactly where God has placed them or as he has made them.
    Theologians delight in parsing the percentage of God’s kingdom that we can or should expect to find or strive for on earth. Cases are made that allow some to ignore kingdom values because of a conviction that we will have “pie in the sky, by and by.” Others make the case that the kingdom is not only “not yet” but “already here” and we are God’s instruments and implements that bring this to reality. Our spiritual task is to determine which kingdom, which citizenship, which world view will determine our days. The choice has eternal consequences for us and for those with whom we live in our homes and on our planet.
    What do our kingdom credentials look like as we go about the mundane tasks of our everyday? How does it change how we act or react to the decisions we must make, the course we must choose, and even the politics we espouse?
    The discipline of meditation can help tremendously as we seek to course correct. St. Ignatius had a spiritual exercise called the Two Standards where he asked that we consider whether we stand under the flag, if you will, of Jesus or of the world. Just as we must become conscious of the patterns of temptation, we can use the same tools of consciousness to bring God into our meditations on what we do and why we do it. Our primary citizenship will quickly become apparent.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: March 1 Edition

Luke 9:28-36(37-43a)

Gospel Lesson for Sunday March 3 2019

 28 Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. 31They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.33Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. 35Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” 36When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.
 On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38Just then a man from the crowd shouted, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child.” 39Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It throws him into convulsions until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. 40I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.”41Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.”42While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43And all were astounded at the greatness of God.

   Ever since campaign season 2015, we have been awash in political power grabs, rushes to the bottom in civility, truth-telling, compassion, and wisdom. There will always be, in this sin-infested world, plenty of people hell-bent on attaining and retaining power, no matter what moral sacrifices are required. If we had no other benchmark for our fallen nature, this dynamic would suffice as proof.
   From one vantage point, the Transfiguration dynamic can be viewed as one more attempt by Satan to turn Jesus from the suffering servant into an insufferable dictator. We’ve seen this before…the temptation in the desert, in Nazareth’s temple where he proclaims his prophesied role, this week’s attempt on Mt. Tabor and finally that last night in the Mount of Olives where Jesus’ victory over temporal power was met with a deceptive, deadly kiss. Each of these temptations to power happened in a “high place,” a place poised to make the attendant power seem that much more attractive.
There were plenty of times and, in human terms, an abundance of reasonable excuses to succumb to these opportunities for instant power. Jesus could have avoided death, set up his reign and the kingdom could have come without all the drama. The fact that these experiences of Jesus were called temptations had to mean that this very urge was strong within Jesus. He was as human as he was divine, and I cannot imagine the battles that raged in his spirit as he sought the real will of his Father, not the more comfortable path he could imagine might effect the same results.
We cannot short-circuit the will of God just because we think we have a better idea that God would surely endorse if only he’d thought of it first! What Jesus was able to accomplish by giving up earthly power was to astonish and frighten the “powers that be” with the reality that there was Power and Authority beyond their wildest dreams to which they will one day bend their knees. Nothing brings more terror into the hearts of the power-hungry than a taste of power they cannot own.
Jesus descended from the high places to live forever in the hearts of all who would have him (He “emptied himself” to become like us and be with us. Philippians 2:7). That is a man for whom earthly power might have briefly tempted, but who knows the greater power of humility and love. He especially seeks those of us who are least likely to ever have the kind of power so earnestly sought in the corridors of government and yes, religion. God said to Peter and his companions, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” As followers of Jesus and sons and daughters of God, we have all the Power we need and could ever desire. Jesus was given a moment of perspective with Moses and Elijah. And he offers that to us. The campaign for the kingdom of heaven has already been won and one day we too will see that transfiguring glory of God. Live with eyes and ears and hearts attuned as though transfiguration is all around you and offered to you…because it is.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: February 15 Edition

Luke 6:17-26

Gospel Lesson for Sunday Feb 17 2019

 17 He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. 18They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them. 20 Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 22 Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 23Rejoice on that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. 24But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25 Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. 26 Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.”

   If ever there was a biblical rebuke to the tenets of the “prosperity gospel,” this passage fits the bill! This may be Luke’s version of “the Sermon on the Mount” or it just may be that Jesus understood that repetition is ‘the key, the key, the key’ to learning!
    By global standards, I live like a queen. By American standards, I am still most fortunate but I never found “keeping up with the Joneses” to be a core value. But the first words out of Jesus in this sermon still give me pause: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” Even if we spiritualize this and make it into “poor in Spirit” I am in a world of trouble! In our day and age of instant gratification and thinking of discipline as though it were a four-letter word, how do we endure being called to a blessed hunger, a righteous poverty, holy weeping, and being hated, excluded, insulted and rejected? And again, if I am rich, well fed, in good spirits and enjoy a good reputation, why is this a bad thing? Or is it?
here is a grand word used for centuries in the monastic tradition but mostly a hidden treasure today. The word is “detachment.” It is predicated upon the fact that if you lose your life for Christ’s sake you will find real life. But in practice, detachment becomes the practice of looking at the world with Christ between you and what you see. The lens through which we look at everything determines our responses. If I look at wealth through the lens of entitlement, or selfish success, that will determine not only how I see money but probably to what lengths I will go to get it. However, if I look at money through the lens of God’s magnificent grace and mercy towards me and his desire that I live in that reality, money takes on a very different meaning and will be acquired and disseminated quite differently.
So then we need to look at this sermon through our “God lens” as well! For God is a God of the freed slave, the welcomed prodigal, the sinful you and me! It is God’s desire to give us the Kingdom. That is the one possession we have that will never be taken from God’s children. And in this kingdom are all the riches, the banquet feasts, the healings, the wealth of the one who owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10). All we need do is keep that kingdom in mind and reject all the glitter and glory of this passing world so that we won’t miss the riches of His grace as we travel toward our eternal glorious home!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: February 1 Edition

Luke 4:21-30

Gospel Lesson for Sunday Feb 3 2019

21 Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”23He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your home town the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’ 24And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s home town. 25But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up for three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; 26yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. 27There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” 28When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. 29They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. 30But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.

   When Elijah had explained to him how he could find the Messiah sitting among the poor at the gates of the city. Rabbi Joshua ben Levi went to the Messiah and said to him:
“Peace unto you, my master and teacher.”
The Messiah answered, “Peace unto you, son of Levi.”
He asked, “When is the master coming?”
“Today,” he answered.
Rabbi Yoshua returned to Elijah, who asked,
“What did he tell you?”
“He indeed has deceived me, for he said
'Today I am coming' and he has not come.”
Elijah said, “This is what he told you:
'Today if you would listen to His voice.' (Psalm 95:7)”

“To announce, however, that the Liberator is sitting among the poor and that the wounds are signs of hope and that today is the day of liberation, is a step very few can take. But this is exactly the announcement of the wounded healer: “The master is coming - not tomorrow, but today, not next year, but this year, not after all our misery is passed, but in the middle of it, not in another place but right here where we are standing.” Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Wounded Healer (p.94-95).

    The people listening to Jesus in the synagogue were “amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips.” Then someone remarked, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” For reasons only God can reveal, Jesus began to antagonize the people that only moments ago he had in the palm of his hand. It is suggested that he did this to focus their attention on how they as a people had missed the mark of divine favor. Whatever the reason, they were not amused. 
    What was that quote from “A Few Good Men?” Oh yes, “You can’t handle the truth!” No, we generally cannot handle the Truth. From Al Gore’s “inconvenient truth,” or Giuliani’s revealing “There is no truth,” to Pilate’s “What is truth?” humanity has issues with truth. The truth hurts. Yes, it really does sometimes. The truth about our fallen condition hurts when we really face it and its implications.
Just as Jesus concluded his scripture reading, so Nouwen also reminds us that the Truth is now among us. It is not delayed until we are ready to deal with it. Our hands and feet, heads and hearts are to be attuned to that Truth so that we can, with Christ, proclaim good news to the poor, freedom for the prisoners and the oppressed, recovery of sight for the blind, and proclaim that this year is just as good a year as any to be the year of the Lord’s favor. All we have to do to experience that favor is to be willing to be a prophet that may not be accepted in our own hometown. He is here. Today. Listen.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: January 18 Edition

John 2:1-11
Gospel Lesson for Sunday Jan 20 2019

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” 5His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6Now standing there were six stone water jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.” So they took it. 9When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him

    It cannot be coincidence that one month after his baptism, “on the third day” (a day of resurrection), Jesus is creating wine out of water at a wedding celebration. Weddings figure prominently in scripture where the coming of God’s kingdom is characterized as a great wedding party! The glorious over-abundance of this miracle (some estimate 150 gallons of wine were created…far more than most wedding crowds could consume!) reminds me of the feeding of the 5,000 and all those other occasions where Jesus just doesn’t answer a prayer, he lavishes surprising largesse upon the one praying. The worker in the parable who was paid a full day’s wages for one hour of work and all the other stories and accounts of how much more God loves us than we even expect of him is thought-provoking!
    What if this God of lavish, over-the-top generosity, this God who inaugurates his transformative presence not in staid liturgy, but celebratory partying, is trying to tell us something about our worship?
Jesus took several discarded vessels that had been used for ceremonial washing and transformed their use from ritual to reckless abandon! How un-Puritan of our Lord! When did the church become so staid, so quiet, so afraid or self-conscious to lift a hand in praise before the Lord? Perhaps we need more than a sip of that new wine! Those of us who pay attention to trends continue to lament our post-Christian society and our ever-dwindling congregations. I wonder if a bit of the (dare I say it?) rowdiness of that Cana wedding might enliven us as we corporately seek to praise and magnify the Lord in worship? It can be almost humorous sometimes to hear the drone of our liturgical responses when a great cry of thanksgiving might be more in order!
“No one puts new wine into old wineskins: otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins" (Mk. 2:22). Our new wineskin is our reborn life in Christ. The next time you are in worship, seek one small way that you can let the joy of the Lord leak out of your wineskin! We are at the beginning of a new year, a chance to break out of old habits; a time to rejoice in the Lord.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: January 4 Edition

Isaiah 43:1-3

Alternative reading for Sunday Jan 6 2019

43 But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. 3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you.

    It is a good thing we don’t see the end from the beginning in our life of faith because who knows how many of us would persevere. There is nothing theoretical about dying and rising with Christ in our baptisms. And having undergone that primal bath, we are asked to towel off and begin to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) so we will be able to face what will come and to be “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37). Isaiah states that God will be with us through all our baptisms whether of water or of fire.
    Jesus was 30 years old when he entered the waters of baptism and it is an open question whether at that moment even he could see the end from the beginning. But what he did receive and what each of us receives were two crucial gifts… our identity and our sense of calling. Jesus arose from the waters of baptism, dripping wet, and heard his Father’s voice assuring him that he was God’s beloved Son with whom God was well pleased. Or, as prefigured in Isaiah 43:1, “I have called you by name, you are mine.” That is who Jesus is and that, through the waters of baptism, is who each of us is as well.
Once we know who we are it should be a less complicated process to discover what we have been called to be and to do. Scripture is quite clear on what God’s children should be about on a daily basis. To put it in the broadest of terms, God asks us to be loving and serve others in His name. However, each of us also needs and desires to discern what specific paths and priorities God has in mind for us, given our gifts, skills and temperament. Frederick Buechner enjoins us to “Listen to your life … because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” With God’s claim on our life, we now have a new heritage, a new family and a “purpose-driven life” if we attend to that “still, small voice” (1 Kings 19:12) within us that longs to show us each step along the Way.
If you were baptized as an infant, you probably don’t remember it. But the community of faith does. Regardless of when you were baptized, how much water was used or the exact liturgy attending it, we each are asked to live as though we have been completely immersed, submerged and subsumed into God’s love. Theologian Paul Tillich wrote, “Salvation is simply accepting the fact that we have (already) been accepted.” The challenge we each have is to continually “go with the flow” of that Living Water. That blessed water is able to douse the unholy fires that seek to consume us. Reflect on your own baptism…there is Epiphany there!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: December 21 Edition


Luke 1:47-55
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 
 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
 Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 
 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
   and holy is his name. 
 50 His mercy is for those who fear him
   from generation to generation. 
 51 He has shown strength with his arm;
   he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
   and lifted up the lowly; 
 53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
   and sent the rich away empty. 
 54 He has helped his servant Israel,
   in remembrance of his mercy, 
 55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
   to Abraham and to his descendants forever.

    On the “eve of the eve” of the enfleshment of our God, we might do well to ponder our own place in this magnificent story. Mary’s “Magnificat” in Luke 1:46-55 is her prophetic paean to God’s will, God’s grace, God’s power, and God’s plan for each of us and the whole cosmos.
    Mary’s joyful refrain is that God has looked on her with favor. He has given her his purpose and so she has found her voice to proclaim God’s ways to all who would hear. Have you let it soak into the depths of your soul that God loves you just the way you are… right this minute? You cannot earn that love and it’s almost impossible to run from it. We are each to find our Spirit-filled voice and sing our own “magnificat.”
My friend, Luci Shaw, wrote a poem which I share with you as an Advent reflection.

Mary’s Song by Luci Shaw

Blue homespun and the bend of my breast
keep warm this small hot naked star
fallen to my arms. (Rest...
you who have had so far
to come.) Now nearness satisfies
the body of God sweetly. Quiet he lies
whose vigor hurled
a universe. He sleeps
whose eyelids have not closed before.

His breath (so slight it seems
no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps
to sprout a world.
Charmed by dove's voices, the whisper of straw,
he dreams,
hearing no music from his other spheres.
Breath, mouth, ears, eyes
he is curtailed
who overflowed all skies,
all years.

Older than eternity, now he
is new. Now native to earth as I am, nailed
to my poor planet, caught that I might be free,
blind in my womb to know my darkness ended,
brought to this birth
for me to be new-born,
and for him to see me mended
I must see him torn.

(Used by permission)

From Accompanied by Angels: Poems of the Incarnation)

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: December 7 Edition


Hebrews 12:1-13
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lost heart. 4In your struggle against sin you have not resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children…
“My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished by him; 6for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves and chastises every child whom he accepts.”
Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? 8If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children. 9Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness. 11Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. 12Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

    Last week, the word for us was waiting. And what demands more patience and waiting than the strictures of discipline? Whether it be the guardrails around a diet plan, physical therapy after a surgery, training for a half-marathon, or anything that we take on as a regimen (regardless of its benefits) is something that doesn’t come naturally to us. But try to imagine a life without discipline! You can imagine, for example, the results of running a marathon without the disciplines of practice runs, workouts, regular rest, and nutrition.
    And then there are spiritual disciplines, even less natural to our willful selves, bent as we are toward our own ways. Disciplines like prayer, scripture study, works of service and sacrifice, worship, forgiveness. All of these are among the disciplines of the followers of Jesus. Without the application of such disciplines, we are ‘Christian’ in name alone. With these disciplines, we open ourselves to joy, peace and fulfillment beyond our ability to imagine.
Advent emphasizes resistance to evil. Discipline develops in us the tools we need for that resistance. Hebrews 12 is a primer on God’s discipline of his children. Corporal discipline in these modern days has gone completely out of favor, largely due to the hints of abuse that attend hitting a child. Yes, there are more “loving” ways to guide a child. But it could be said that God allows an amount of corporal discipline in our lives from time to time—a disease, or some other “thorn in the flesh”—by which God teaches, guides and yes, protects each one of us. And just like the child who cries out when their backside gets a swat, so too do we cry out.  But the writer of Hebrews in 12:11 offers us this: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
A parent who doesn’t care how their children turn out is unlikely to impose discipline on the child beyond sheer punishment for inconveniencing the parent in some way. But God “disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness (v. 10).”  God wants us to be equipped to fend off the wiles of the devil and have the strength and courage to be God’s ambassadors in our fallen world. This life is both a glorious gift and a training ground for union with our Lord. During this Advent season, let us set out to become strong to finish the race and keep the faith so that with Paul and all the saints, we may receive God’s “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
God is our trainer in faith, but do you have an earthly “spotter” or coach to help you stay the course?

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: November 23 Edition

John 18:33-37
Gospel Lesson for Sunday Nov 18 2018

33 Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” 35Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” 36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” 37Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

   Sometime during middle school, I took a Civics class. It was required. We learned very important things like how to get a bill through the legislature (back when that still happened), how our government was designed to run, and what was expected of a good citizen. The church would do well to reinstitute its own civics class. It could be called “Citizenship in the Kingdom of God.”  There are certainly plenty of biblical texts to guide us! But the key to understanding our role as citizens of God’s kingdom is to understand under whose rule we live!  
    Jesus’ kingship was announced to Mary by the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:32-33), and the core of everything Jesus did and taught centered on the advent of God’s kingdom (Mark 1:15). Reading this exchange with Pilate, it is apparent that the kingdom Jesus rules is “not of this world.” For one thing, Jesus is not flanked by an avenging army ready to rescue its ruler from his impending assassination. Rather, His is the kingdom we enter to help rescue the world in thrall to the principalities and powers; we are his light-bearing ambassadors in this realm of darkness.  Peter cut off the ear of one of the soldiers sent to deliver Jesus into the hands of Roman authority. Jesus healed that ear as a sign and intention of what his kingdom is and will be… healing and wholeness for all, not power and glory for a few.
Jesus is the servant king, a king who was completely disenfranchised and tempted in all ways as we are (Hebrews 4:15), who was fully human and fully divine, a king who completely understands his subjects and, amazingly, calls us his friends. Jesus refused temporal power when Satan tempted him with all the kingdoms of the world in exchange for Jesus’ worship of him.  Because it is called a temptation, we must conclude that there was something about the idea of earthly rule that Jesus pondered as his ministry and identity unfolded.  He could have decided to inaugurate a theocracy; to build on what was good in Israeli society and bring it under the banner of God’s reign. In fact, some followers of Christ still seek this route.
But Jesus did not succumb and take the way of expediency. Thanks be to God that he saw that temptation for what it was, i.e., a sure way to forfeit our salvation. We do not bend the knee to a king with a bejeweled crown; we bow before a sovereign with the scars of crucifixion and a crown of thorns. Someone once said that the difference between Jesus’ kingship and the earthly expressions of political authority is that his is a reign governed by the power of love, while earthly rulers govern with a love for power.
Christ’s kingdom is not of this world and, in our sinfulness, we too often want and work to keep it that way, virtually sparring with Jesus as Pilate did over the nature of truth and the reach of kings! Regardless of the venue—boardroom or battlefield—everyone looks for an opposing leader’s vulnerability and lasers in on it to seize the advantage. It is very temporal and temporary—a clash of kingdoms, a “game of thrones.”  We pledge allegiance to the flag. What allegiance have we pledged to Christ? When Matthew 6:33 tells us to seek first the kingdom of God, what are we seeking? The proof of our heavenly citizenship consists entirely of whose image we bear… the image of Christ not Caesar!
This Sunday, as we pray together as our Lord taught us, think of our Lord’s Prayer as a form of holy subversion! We are signaling our alignment with an alternative ruler and seeking help to completely re-focus our allegiance, our values and our decisions to obey our sovereign. Thy kingdom come…on earth! We are citizens of God’s kingdom. How are we exercising that citizenship?

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: November 9 Edition

Mark 12:38-44
Gospel Lesson for Sunday Nov 11 2018

38 As he taught, he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the market-places, 39and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! 40They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”41 He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny.43Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” 

   Scarcity and abundance are the twin faces in any conversation about money with very little middle ground. We are well into stewardship season in the church.  In whatever way we frame our conversations on funding our ministries, scripture tells us repeatedly that the values of this world are in stark contrast to Kingdom values.  Our fallen nature has a huge struggle juggling these two value systems, particularly with regard to money. The cultural message we imbibe from infancy is that we should strive to be independent; God’s message to us is one of utter dependence on him.  No wonder we are sometimes riven in two with conflicting priorities.
    This week’s readings deal with two different widows: the widow of Zarephath in the passage from 1 Kings and the story in Mark, commonly referred to as “the widow’s mite.” Widows are a recurring group in ancient Israel who were to be cared for; in fact, they required that care as, having been completely dependent on their husbands, they were destitute without them. They continue to be powerful symbols for those who have no choice but to participate in and contribute to the very systems that oppress them.
The widow of Zarephath was hunkering down to prepare a “last supper” for herself and her son and then to settle in to die.  The prophet Elijah came along, obeying a directive from God who told the widow that she was to feed Elijah. He arrived and asked her to bring him bread and water. She would either have to sacrifice her own last meal or that of her son to accommodate this stranger.  Apparently, she didn’t receive or understand the message God told Elijah he had delivered to her. Elijah announced to her that often-heard angelic pronouncement, “Do not be afraid.” And he assured her that her obedience to this request would result in unending sustenance as long as the drought endured. Her fortunes turned on a dime, as it were, from scarcity to abundance. 
Then, in Mark, we read the story most of us hear when the stewardship drive kicks into high gear.  Picture Jesus today sitting in the IRS office reading through everyone’s tax returns and coming upon someone who decided to do exactly what a cartoon once suggested, “What did you earn this year? Turn it in.”  Jesus noticed this widow’s two copper coins clanging into the till and made sure the disciples saw the comparison between giving out of abundance and giving out of poverty.  It’s as though Jesus turned to his disciples and said, “This!”
Jesus was focused not on condemning or minimizing those who gave out of their abundance; rather he rejoiced at the widow’s interior freedom and faith to be able to give, not just until it hurt, but until there was nothing left to give.  “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27).” It is possible to be subjective about what “all” might mean in most cases, but not when it comes to a quantifiable thing like money.  It’s “all” or it’s not “all.” 
The most provocative aspect to this story in my view is the fact that the two coins this widow offered the temple treasury—even if they were her last two coins—were not going to get her out of poverty.  They probably weren’t even going to get her lunch!  This was someone who was not relying on her money, but on the grace of God and the righteous response of her neighbors. That is what Jesus wants from each of us regardless of our bank balance.
We are stewards, not owners. Therein lies our freedom. May we seek this freedom of the widow to rely on God alone. That will loosen our grip on so many lesser things. And less in this case is most definitely more… more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20)!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: October 26 Edition

Mark 10:46-52
Gospel Lesson for
Sunday Oct 28 2018

46 They came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. 47When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” 50So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus.51Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” 52Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way. 

   James 5:16 (along with Ephesians 6:18 and any number of other scripture references) enjoins us to pray for one another. Any prayer chain worth its salt has a long list of those who are seeking physical, emotional or even financial healing. Occasionally, we are gifted with the apparent answer to our corporate praying. Someone’s cancer is in complete remission…what was thought to be terminal is now treatable…and so on. Then there are the ones that break our hearts (and we have each known someone or been that someone), those whose prayers were not answered in the way they so fervently hoped.
    This Sunday’s gospel tells us the story of Bartimaeus, a blind beggar and inadvertent author of the famous ‘Jesus prayer:’ “Lord Jesus Christ, son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Bartimaeus has a special role in his community, even in his lowly and mostly despised state. He is the symbol of, sitting at the doors of the city, the inhabitants’ responsibility to give alms to the poor. Perhaps that is not too dissimilar to the shaggy, sunburned folks waving their cardboard signs on the curbsides of Phoenix, which is annoying but easy to ignore…unless they jump in front of our vehicles or tap on our car doors. Then the response is likely to be a few shades darker than annoyance.
But this is essentially what Bartimaeus did with his shout-outs to Jesus to have mercy and return his sight to him. This was no demur prayer, “If it be thy will.” This was an in-your-face, ‘I-know-who- you- are, I-know-what-you-can- do- and-I-am-asking-you-to-do-it’ beseeching prayer! I imagine Jesus being secretly thrilled with Bartimaeus’ holy audacity. I remember James’ stark comment, “You don’t have because you don’t ask (James 4:2b).” Remember, too, the persistent widow who Would.Not.Shut.Up (Luke 18:1-8)! Luke used her as a role model for ceaseless, hopeful praying.
The disciples, meanwhile, were focused on getting out of town so this beggar was indeed annoying them. Jesus well knew that his journey was going to be defined by its “interruptions” and unexpected byways and so he asked the disciples to bring blind Bart to him. Jesus not only wants to heal in this story, but he was also capturing another teachable moment for his disciples. Typically, a beggar would approach a potential almsgiver with ‘bowing and scraping,’ not Bart’s exuberant springing up and doffing of his cloak! I think he was already sensing the new life and new sight to come to him through this encounter. Nor did Jesus stand on ceremony. No pious review about how to ask for healing or who should ask for healing, or even what the healing process should be. Jesus simply responded to the bold faith of a man in need. Then, after checking to make sure he really wanted to be healed (v. 51), Jesus gave him what he really wanted which went so much deeper than physical sight.
The followers of Jesus were more interested in continuing on their way, silencing the interloper, and keeping things on track and on schedule. How like us they are! And even when we pray for healing, are we sure we can handle it if it arrives? Do we pray with a spring in our step and a willingness to toss our cloak to the curb and run to the source of our new life? What stops us from forthrightly facing our Lord and begging for the wholeness we are offered? Could it be that our spirits need new sight more than our eyes might? All we have to do is ask. We may not receive a physical healing right away, but God will in no way refuse to give us the great gift of resurrected life (John 6:37)! That is something I know I want to see!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: October 12 Edition

Mark 10:17-31
Gospel Lesson for
Sunday Oct 14 2018

17 As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 17Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honour your father and mother.’”  20He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” 21Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.23 Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 26They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” 27Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”28 Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” 29Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, 30who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” 

    Half my life ago, I was a postulant in an Episcopal convent. The greatest struggle I had there was not that I had to sell my red Camaro or divest myself of possessions only recently acquired post-college.  In fact, as the years have accumulated, so have my possessions and so has my attachment to them. I have had no lack of issues with prosperity and the call of God. 
    Convent life, while providing basic needs, was not a place where much luxury was to be had.  The heat was turned down excessively low (I was in Wisconsin at the time), much of the food was grown in our garden or donated from food pantry overflow. The re-sale store was the go-to shop for our wardrobe (having doffed the habit some years before I arrived).  A $25 per month allowance was plenty for the pared-down needs of this “sister.”
Separated from the striving for goods and services, pay and raises, I was stripped down to the basic tug-o-war between Being and Doing. No longer a noticeable consumer, I had a fundamental identity crisis about my intrinsic worth.  I was not at all convinced that I had any worthwhile identity apart from what I could contribute to the market economy. That is how mid-century children were reared, after all.
Thinking about the “rich young ruler,” I imagine each of us could substitute for “rich” whatever it is that distracts us and defends us against openness to God. This young man saw eternal life as simply another acquisition, a commodity he could do something to obtain.  And Jesus loved him too much not to tell him the Truth.
    C. S. Lewis once wrote, “Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us…like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.  We are far too easily pleased.” And we are far too easily frightened by grace. Not the cheap variety, but the grace that, if received, leads to freedom from whatever binds us, whatever prevents us from being whole, whatever provocative voice tempts us, saying, “Keep your possessions because you never know what God might ask of you.” A wise person once said, “Who knew that the opposite of ‘rich’ was not ‘poor’ but ‘free!’ “
A gospel of ease and convenience does not resemble the gospel life of Jesus or any of his followers.  But the good news of abundance is always proclaimed as an antidote to the pain of divesting ourselves of what is already passing away to gain the One who will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). If you have not yet appropriated the grace of God and still believe you can earn your salvation, ask yourself this… When will you know you have paid in full your debt to God?
This story is about each one of us because God will inevitably ask each of us a question we don’t want to answer.  And as Jesus reminds us, we don’t have to answer it in our own strength…because we can’t. As Harvard chaplain Peter Gomes has written, “With us, nothing works. The good suffer, the wicked prosper…Our wealth does not make us rich; our poverty doesn’t make us virtuous. Our power does not heal, our knowledge does not enlighten. Peace is fleeting, and the grave seems ultimate and eternal. The gospel of wealth, pleasure, power, and sensation has no capacity to save us for and from anything. With us, nothing is possible. But with God, all things are possible.” 
Only when we open our hands and let earthly things fall from our grasp, will we be free to hold on to Jesus. According to Luke 12:32, he loves us so much that he cannot wait to give us the Kingdom. Nothing we lose today can surpass those riches.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: Sept 28 Edition

Mark 9:38-50
Gospel Lesson for Sunday Sept 30 2018

38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.”39But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me. 40Whoever is not against us is for us. 41For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward. 42 “If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. 43If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.45And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. 47And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, 48where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched. 49 “For everyone will be salted with fire. 50Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

    How many times have we wanted something that was so far out of reach that all we could mutter was “That would cost an arm and a leg!”
    When I was an employee of the church and we dealt with ecumenical issues, it was almost always the case that lay people didn’t really think about boundaries when it came time to do the work of Christ; they just got it done together across (and sometimes in spite of) denominational lines.  “Whoever is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:40) means little unless we are able to leave our comfort zone, peer over all the man-made barriers and see if the work of Christ is being done in, perhaps, surprising places by unexpected people. Paul, in Philippians 1:15-18, doesn’t seem to care about the motives behind the Message; he only rejoices that the Message is being proclaimed. And Jesus seems to be saying in Mark 9:39 that after someone has performed a work of power in his name, they will have a very hard time denying him!
Jesus said in John 15:5, “…apart from me you can do nothing” so it stands to reason that if Christ’s work is being done, and we don’t immediately recognize the worker, we cannot therefore assume this is not one of Christ’s own.  We don’t get to make that call (see the cautionary tale of the Sheep and the Goats—Matt. 25:31-46). Our call is to make sure the altar of God is large enough for all God’s children to fit around it.  “…We are here to be companions (a wonderful word that comes from cum panis… with bread). We are here to share bread with one another (Robert McAfee Brown).” The banquet feast of God has a place setting for each one of us and I am absolutely certain we will be sitting next to people we never thought we’d see at the table. The hospitality of God is focused on very different things than we sometimes are when planning a party.
Anne Lamott said in her book Bird by Bird, “You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
Christians can (and many do) persist in being one-person inquisitions for what are believed to be inspired reasons: We must defend the faith; we must take “God’s side” in whatever argument is on tap; we must make sure OUR take on Christianity remains THE take on Christianity…and so on. I would never say that we should not stand up for the “faith once-delivered” but I do think that Jesus is trying to impress on his followers the need to have our arms of acceptance spread just a bit wider than we might find comfortable; otherwise, we begin to enter the realm of lost limbs! In-fighting, religious grudges and ecclesiastical battles all break the heart of God. 
Standing with others in their journey is not about retreating from our convictions and believing anything, thereby believing nothing at all.  Rather, it is the loving, open-armed stance of our God who asks us to be his arms and his legs in seeking and reaching out to the lost and nurturing and discipling those who are trying to join the fold. If we cross our arms in belligerence, rejection and a lack of forgiveness, we can’t be shocked that Jesus is willing that we lose those evil limbs! 
So, what we want might cost us an arm and a leg; what God wants from us might cost the same if we are not willing to surrender ourselves, our souls and bodies to God to use as he will and for whom he will.  Our model is the outstretched arms nailed to a cross—open for each of us to embrace. Be willing to amputate whatever keeps you from God.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: Sept 14 Edition

James 3:1-12
2nd Reading for 
Sunday Sept 16 2018

3Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.2For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle.3If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. 4Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! 6And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, 8but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. 10From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so. 11Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and brackish water? 12Can a fig tree, my brothers and sisters, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.

     I love words.  But what trouble they can cause.  In this week’s passage from the Book of James, we are given a serious essay on the power of the words that flow from our mouths! The childhood refrain, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me” could not be further from the truth. Job, for example, pleads with his counselors to stop breaking him in pieces with words (Job19:2). I am guessing that each of us has a memory of a compliment or a disparagement by a parent or a teacher that is branded into our consciousness and had an impact on our formative lives.  Words can either wound or heal—such is their impact.
    It has been many years now since I first participated in a silent retreat.  Prior to that (except for times when I was sound asleep), I doubt seriously if I ever sustained that many hours in a row of complete silence.  But oh, the racket in my head! I realized for the first time what a swirling mass of words are at the ready to tumble from my mouth on a moment’s notice!
By comparing the tongue (the formative organ of speech) to other small things that have a disproportionate effect on much larger things (i.e., a bridle in a horse’s mouth or the rudder of a ship), James makes clear that while we may consider what we say to be insignificant, it can produce as much damage as a Western wild fire!  We don’t have to listen very long to the evening news before we are faced once again with the implications and consequences of playing fast and loose with words. The ethics of speech have not quite made it into politics. This all reminds me again of Job, responding to one of his “friends” when he said (in 13:5), “If you would only keep silent, that would be your wisdom.”
Last week, James presented us with the reminder that faith without works is dead.  This week he wants us to understand that our words are also a determination of the reality of our faith.  “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing…this ought not to be so (v. 10).” Perhaps that is why he recommended the discipline of being “quick to listen and slow to speak (v.19).”  It gives us a chance to weigh our words against truth and faith before we speak rashly, ignorantly or harmfully.
This is the season when we recruit our church school teachers. I would hesitate to use James 3:1 as an incentive!  “Not many of you should become teachers…for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” When our words are not only spoken, but spoken with the authority granted to the position of teacher, it only makes sense that even more care should be used in the manner and the content of our speech. A teacher said once that every time he read that verse he was tempted to take a vow of silence!
And yet, as James declared, “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13); and, as an example of that, Peter’s words of confusion and denial (in this week’s Gospel passage) were redeemed as the suffering servant became his longsuffering Savior and Lord. We cannot take back the words we speak, but we can seek forgiveness and begin to amend our past unfortunate words. Otherwise, the ominous words of Jesus should haunt our speech: “I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter (Matthew 12:36).”  Now, I want to take that vow of silence!
As Paul wrote to the Philippians (4:8), “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” What is cherished in our hearts and pondered in our minds is what is most likely to come forth from our lips!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: August 31 Edition

James 1:17-27

Sept 2 

17 Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.19 You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness. 21Therefore rid yourselves of all sordidness and rank growth of wickedness, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. 23For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; 24for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like.25But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing. 26 If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. 27Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. 
    Words, words, words.  We are awash in words. Moses, in Deuteronomy, enjoins the Israelites in verse 4:1, “You must neither add to what I command you nor take away anything from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God.”  And oh, how many, many words we have added to those original “Ten Words” given to God’s people to guide their lives in righteousness.  Someone once said that we should not put words in God’s mouth, but put God’s words in our mouths. For, as Jesus taught, it is from within that the condition of the heart is revealed, whether in words or actions. Jesus is the Word, the culmination and redemption of all words ever used to reach out for God and salvation.
The words of Psalm 15:1-5 are almost haunting in their implicit judgments against the entire political and legislative landscape we inhabit. And the passage in James reinforces all we have heard and read in this week’s lessons with the admonition to be doers of the word, not just hearers (v. 22). He does emphasize that we should listen first and then take our time before speaking. There comes a point when we have heard things one too many times; even good things can begin to fade into the background from over-use.  This happens often in religious circles as we hear repeatedly what we should be doing and yet see so few evidences that anyone is following through on all these “shoulds.” And so Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah saying, “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me (Mark 7:6).” Lip-service versus a life of service.
I remember the tale of “Snow White” and how the wicked queen would gaze into her mirror and ask that most narcissistic question, “Mirror, mirror, on the wall: Who is the fairest one of all?” James invokes a mirror many of us will understand.  He says that those who hear the word and do not proceed to respond to it in their actions are like those of us who look in the mirror and don’t really see ourselves …or, who only give a passing glance as we rush by the mirror because we really don’t want to see what it will reflect.
In verse 26, James lays it out in no uncertain terms: “If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless.” Then he proceeds to describe pure and undefiled religion: to care for orphans and widows and keep ourselves unstained by the world.  “Orphans and widows” in our day translates to whomever we find to be the most vulnerable in society, as widows and orphans were in James’ era. And since we must leave our comfort zones to do this work, James also wants us to be careful to protect ourselves from the wiles of the world as we seek to make the holy difference God’s children are empowered to make in the world.
Pharisees (of every age) are focused on rules, not relationships. The rules God puts in place (in our hearts and in our scriptures) are there to foster and protect our relationships with God and with each other. But we add to these rules from our limited perspectives, we parse the language, we prevaricate, and we mostly end up doing not very much for the kingdom besides adding more noise and dimming the Light.
The church can be a place where we measure ourselves by God’s mirror—Jesus himself—as we seek to live what James calls “the law of liberty (v. 25).” The great commandment is this… “Love God, yourself and your neighbor.” Few words, righteous work. Amen.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: August 17 Edition

Ephesians 5:15-20
Epistle Reading for 
Sunday August 19 2018

15 Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise,16making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, 19as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, 20giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

   In 1985, Neil Postman published a book entitled Amusing Ourselves to Death. He describes the ways television has altered how we communicate, how we relate, the length of our attention spans and even our ability to entertain alternative viewpoints or discern among competing “facts.” Postman is also convinced that we are addicted to entertainment. Nothing about this serves us well as we struggle to lead faithful, focused Christian lives.
    In this week’s brief passage from Ephesians, Paul presents a similar challenge against the prevailing culture of his time. Verse 15 sums up the challenge: “Be careful then how you live.” Paul cautions the Galatian Christians similarly (see Galatians 3:3) not to abandon the Spirit-led life for one ruled by the surrounding culture.
By the time the “music wars” hit evangelical churches, I was attending a mainline church, which was resplendent with beautiful, albeit ancient, music and liturgy. I was startled that there was even an interest in allowing “rock bands” and rock music into churches. My reactions were a-historical. Organ music and many of our sacrosanct hymn tunes came straight out of secular culture (just very old secular culture), old enough that we now consider it ancient Christian tradition! Verse 19 tells us to sing all manner of songs to the Lord, affirming St. Augustine’s belief that whoever sings, prays twice.
Christians always live with the challenge of displaying for the world what the abundant life in Christ looks like while not engaging in a wholesale rejection of all modern culture. On the other hand, it is wise to understand our current celebrity culture as it butts heads at every turn with how Christians are taught to live! Examples abound: the celebrity culture worships youth, beauty, wealth, sex, extreme sports, risky behavior and absolute freedom. A moment’s reflection reveals the end-game of living with those values!
By now, we are seeing the fruits of our cultural slavery to media and those who have claimed the media spotlights. Whether it be the copycats who see a serial killer’s face on television day after day or a celebrity being given great political power with less than stunning credentials, we have traded image for substance and continue to reap the results of that kind of trade-off.
Jesus’ disciples couldn’t clearly discern who Jesus was because they were only seeing him through their cultural lenses, expecting him to be their earthly king rather than their heavenly Messiah. We are called always to wear “spiritual bifocals” so that what we see before us can be refocused through the lenses of spiritual wisdom. Paul is asking three things of us: to be wise, sober, and thankful. The list is short, but if our inner compass is oriented around these guideposts, we will one day see transformation in ourselves and in those with whom we interact each day.
Paul instructs us to make the most of our time (v. 16) which probably doesn’t refer to the frantic multi-tasking of 21st century America. Rather, we are to make every minute count for God by being open and available to be used by God as God directs us. The days may be evil but those are the best days to set out with God on divine reclamation work! (See 1 Peter 4:12) Socrates told us that the unexamined life is not worth living. Paul would agree. He is reminding us that the Holy Spirit is always available to provide wisdom and grace for each step we walk on our daily path. And as we walk, our thankfulness becomes the spring in our steps!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: August 3 Edition

Ephesians 4:1-16
Gospel Lesson for 
Sunday August 5 2018

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. 7 But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8Therefore it is said, ‘When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people.’ 9(When it says, ‘He ascended’, what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) 11The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. 14We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming.15But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and knitted together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

   I once participated in a series of interviews to fill a position at work. I decided to go online to see if there were any good lists of provocative interview questions (‘provocative’ meaning they would provoke useful answers!) to pose to the candidates.  I came away with one which I used each time and it “provokes” each time.  The question is: “After you leave your current position, what will your supervisor/colleagues miss about you the most?”  I have decided that this question brings forth what the candidate really feels is his/her strong suit; i.e., their particular talent or gift.  And the candidates all moved from “interview mode” and began to speak passionately.  It’s a wonderful question! 
    This week’s lesson from Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians is a beautiful description of how we are to “lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called (v. 1).”  In fact, it’s all about being the Christians we proclaim to be “with all humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with each other in love and making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Now, there is a job description! As jobs descriptions do, it goes on to list the qualifications required for this…with one big difference.  These are not qualifications that we dutifully must have developed on our own; they are the grace-filled gifts God has bestowed upon each one of us!  We are not so gifted that we might feel self-satisfied or consider ourselves better (or worse) than someone else who is gifted differently. These gifts are given for the sole purpose of “equipping us for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ (v. 12).” As Peter put it in 1 Peter 4:10, “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” And as Paul wrote in Romans 12:6, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.”
There is an old story from the Jewish tradition that illustrates Paul’s teaching on gifts: There once was a man named Simon. Simon wanted to be more like Moses.  He consulted his rabbi about this concern and the rabbi told him, “Simon, God will not ask you why you were not more like Moses.  God will ask you why you were not more like Simon.”
Paul goes on to admonish us as we exercise our gifts to continue to mature in faith and life. He employs here the body metaphor that, in Corinthians chapter 12, he so elaborately details (and which culminates in the next chapter with the magnificent “love chapter”). The body cannot function if some of its limbs or organs are weak, rebellious, or sick.  The body of Christ is no different.  We cannot fulfill the law of love all by ourselves; we need each other and we, all of us, need to be on a spiritual growth path. 
We need to be intentional to first understand what and why we believe so that we can be effective witnesses to the truth for others. The “one faith” referenced in verse 5 denotes an objective body of belief (the Apostle’s Creed, for instance). To return to the job analogy, one way to determine if you have a good employee is how they pursue career development during their employment.  If they simply do the minimum, they won’t be the ones to whom employers look when more work with more responsibility is being offered. 
Aristides, a second-century apologist for the Christian faith, wrote this to the Roman emperor Hadrian about believers in his day:

They love one another. They never fail to help widows; they save orphans from those who would hurt them. If they have something, they give freely to the man who has nothing; if they see a stranger, they take him home, and are happy, as though he were a real brother. They don’t consider themselves brothers in the usual sense, but brothers instead through the Spirit, in God.”

    With God’s help, let us work for the day when, once again, the world will say about us, “Behold how they love one another (see also John 13:35).”  That is the one gift we have each been given.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: July 20 Edition

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

Gospel Lesson for 
Sunday July 22 2018

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. 31He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. 33Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. 34As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored the boat. 54When they got out of the boat, people at once recognized him, 55and rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56And wherever he went, into villages or cities or farms, they laid the sick in the market-places, and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.

   Most of us aren’t on a fast-paced road of constant ministry… healing, teaching, traveling and serving for the cause of Christ.  Some are called in this way but most of us are on a less intense path.  Jesus and his disciples, however, found themselves on a crash-course toward exhaustion more than once.  In this Sunday’s gospel, we see a picture of the disciples as they reported in, so to speak, on their first missionary journeys without Jesus, and he responded by suggesting they needed to rest from their labors. Jesus was, after all, a master at work/life balance! (See Mark 6:46) But before that plan could be put into place, the crowds found and followed them. Jesus could not refuse them because Jesus is the very essence of compassion and selflessness. He knew that their need for spiritual food was more important than his and the disciples’ need for physical food and rest at that moment. Jesus saw them as “sheep without a shepherd” and knew it was his work and joy, and that of his disciples, to shepherd those who sought him.
    It is a poignant picture painted in Mark’s gospel of crowds of people who saw Jesus and the disciples and hurried to beat them to their destination, so that even if they only touched the “fringe of his cloak” (v. 56) their hope was thereby to be healed. What is interesting here is that Jesus doesn’t immediately start to physically heal, but instead, “he began to teach them many things (v. 34).” This sets Jesus apart from the many wonder workers and itinerants who went about creating a celebrity persona for themselves by duping people in various ways with artificial miracle-working (or, worse yet, demonic sideshows).  Jesus wanted to teach people so that any subsequent healing would be recognized for what it was…a great gift and grace from God. Jesus wanted to make sure that these precious sheep recognized their real need…not for food, not for healing, but for God.
Shepherds in the ancient world were usually from the poorer classes of society but the term also referred to the role of kings. How apt that Jesus considered himself the good shepherd (John 10:14). Flocks of sheep only survive because of the faithful shepherd who keeps them from danger and repeatedly returns them to the right path.  A bad shepherd will destroy or lose the flock entrusted to his or her care.
Our role is to learn shepherding. To do that, we must learn to know Jesus and how he shepherds us, even when we don’t immediately recognize him.  He is there, making sure we don’t stray too far in our anger or our grief or our pain. To really learn and allow Jesus to work in our hearts and souls, we must be willing to “come away and rest.”  We cannot expect Jesus to hop in the car with us and instruct us in wisdom, love and compassion while we are distracted with errands!  He wants our full attention, not just a momentary thought while we wait for a green light.
In Barbara Brown Taylor’s book An Altar in the World, she notes that in China, the appropriate response to the question, “How are you?” is not “Fine,” as it is in this country, but rather, “I am very busy, thank you.” That sounds more like what Americans should be saying, driven as we are. Our secular worth is calculated precisely on the level of stress and activity we can claim. 
I like to think of myself responding to Jesus’ invitation to “Come away to a deserted place…and rest a while” and finding, in that rest, a renewed love for Jesus and new energy to follow Him as a sheep trusts and follows the shepherd.  When I stay in the mainstream of life, it is too easy to focus on what is wrong with everything and everyone else.  When I am alone, with God as my only companion, I begin to see my true state and my heart yearns for compassion for myself and for the world.
If you have not yet taken a vacation this summer, perhaps you can plan a get-away that is something other than “vacating” our hectic lives with another version of busy.  May we each determine how to “come away and rest a while” with Jesus.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: July 6 Edition

2 Corinthians 12:2-10

Epistle Reading for 
Sunday July 8 2018

2I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. 3And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows— 4was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat.5On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. 6But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me, 7even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given to me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. 8Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me 9but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

   “Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me (v. 8).”  Most of us have heard about Paul’s “thorn in the flesh,” although no one knows exactly what it was.  Paul, however, says it kept him from becoming too elated.  As though the calamitous life he led for Christ wouldn’t have the same effect!  Paul was addressing the church at Corinth, a people who, like their surrounding culture, measured their holiness and virtue by outward signs and results.  Paul was no doubt tempted to tell them just how much more he had done and experienced than they could even imagine…hence the thorn perhaps to help him avoid spiritual one-upmanship.  
    Paul is telling his listeners that when he is weak, then he is strong…because of God’s power in him and not because of his own virtues or achievements.  The thorn was a felt reminder that he did not accomplish anything lasting unless he allowed God to do it through him (Ephesians 2:9).  He saw his affliction in a Job-like way, even calling it a “messenger of Satan (v. 7).”  And like Christ, who asked three times that the cup he was to drink be removed, Paul’s three requests to remove his thorn were similarly denied.
“When I am weak, then I am strong” would have sounded like gibberish in the Greco-Roman world of that time.  And, really, how close to gibberish is it to us, whether we work on “Wall Street or Main Street”? These days, as in those days, power is power and weakness is weakness and getting to the top by dint of one’s own efforts is still lauded and magnified as a crowning virtue of the American Dream. But it is God’s power that is made perfect in weakness.  That’s the point.  God can’t do anything through our self-sufficiency, only through our surrender.  
The Church struggles with issues of power and weakness, with image and reality, with addressing our culture or accommodating to it.  We don’t always get it right, but the message of Christ remains our one true benchmark.  Even the 12-Step community has focused on this truth: “I admit I am powerless over (fill in the blank), that my life has become unmanageable.” That is the first and foundational step to putting a ‘thorn in the flesh’ into perspective and ultimately using it for personal growth and awareness.  The second step is where the rubber begins to hit the road: “Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us…”). Those 12 Steps were fashioned on biblical principles. Paul would instantly recognize the dynamic of giving up our power to gain Greater Power…through our weakness.
Each of us, I’m guessing, has a thorn (or a “cross to bear”).  And you can bet I have asked the Lord more than three times to remove mine from my life.  But, alas!  I imagine I will struggle with mine until all struggles cease!  But at the same time, I get many glimmers of why my “thorn” is ultimately good for me.  I know that even this devilish reminder of my mortality is a way for me to experience that “all things work together for good (Romans 8:28).” I am certain that each of us, upon some deep reflecting on our “thorns,” will discover “saving graces” that we might not immediately recognize as we struggle to remove or adjust our various afflictions. 
Ernest Hemingway, in A Farewell to Arms wrote, “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places.” God may not plan our particular “breakings,” but it is absolutely true that he will sustain us in them if we allow Him to do what we can only feebly and futilely attempt.  And maybe because of our weakness (not in spite of it) we are the very witnesses to His grace that God needs us to be in this fearful, thorn-infested world.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: June 22 Edition

Mark 4:35-41

Gospel Lesson for 
Sunday June 24 2018

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37A great gale arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

    When the disciples finally woke up their ‘Teacher,’ frightened as they were by the tumult in which they found themselves, Jesus commanded the wind and the sea to be still.  Commentators who study the original language of this passage concur that not only did Jesus use words also invoked to rebuke demons (reminiscent of his remark to Peter: “Get thee behind me, Satan”) but that he was probably telling his followers to “be quiet” as much as he was telling nature to calm down.  No wonder they were suddenly filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him (Mark 4:41)?” They were suddenly getting a bigger vision of who this man Jesus might be! But for Jesus, the question was “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” How often I have asked the disciples’ question, “Do you not care that we are perishing?!” How often Jesus has calmed my self-churned seas! 
    Most of us have prayed some version of the Breton Fisherman's Prayer: “Oh God, thy sea is so great and my boat is so small.” Reading this passage, my impression is that Jesus wanted his followers to understand that even if they were floating on a log in a typhoon, his grace would be sufficient.  But, in my own on-again/off-again trust, I still hear the signature tune from “Jaws” at the same time that I believe his grace IS sufficient.  It’s just that life is what is right in front of us and sometimes it is completely unnerving. And, on the surface, it does not, in fact, look like everything is or will be well, which prompts most of us to ask the Lord in our distress if he really doesn’t care (this time) about our trials and tribulations (Mark 4:38).
This is not a story of God doing for us everything we want and in the way we want it.  Rather, this is a story of God being with us when life comes at us like a battering ram or when the will of God defies the logic of man. That is when faith and trust must kick in.  And the only way to have built up a sufficient “deposit” of faith and trust for the hard times is to begin with the baby steps of faith and trust when times are relatively calm.  It’s easy to stay on a diet if you’re not hungry, but when the hunger comes, that’s when the commitment to the goal is sometimes all you have until the storm of wild appetite has passed.
So it is with faith.  When all is apparently well we can glibly say, “Yes, I believe.”  (See Matthew 26:33 & 26:70-74 for how well Peter managed this!) When times grow grim, as they will for each of us at some point, our Lord expects that we will have been with him in prayer and fellowship long enough to maintain our “Yes, I believe (‘help thou mine unbelief’’—Mark 9:24). Jesus desires to help us with our unbelief.  If we stay connected to him (our life boat in the stormy sea), we will find that his grace is more than just sufficient.  His grace will change our minds and hearts about what is happening to us.  He will give us the peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7) in exchange for the fears and anxieties that face us. God may rock our boat, but he will also steer it safely to shore because he is in that boat with us and promises never to leave us (Hebrews 13:5).
Frederick Buechner wrote, “Christ sleeps in the deepest selves of all of us, and whatever we do in whatever time we have left, wherever we go, may we, in whatever way we can, call on him as the fishermen did in their boat to come awake within us and to give us courage, to give us hope, to show us, each one, our way.”  Jesus truly has overcome the world (John 16:33) so, stay in the boat with him. The perfect storm is the storm we weather with Jesus at the helm.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: June 8 Edition

Mark 3:20-35
Gospel Lesson for 
Sunday June 10

20and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat.21When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” 22And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” 23And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. 27But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered. 28 “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”’— 30for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.” 31 Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 32A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” 33And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” 

   Jesus’ family found itself in a culture and time of multi-generational—not nuclear—families.  The members of these families subscribed to very rigid gender roles that brooked little openness to the American uber-value of choosing one’s own path!  So one can imagine why Jesus’ “birth family” tore after him when they heard that people thought he had gone crazy; they wanted to protect their son and, no doubt, their family honor as well! I can imagine them grousing as they went forth on their familial intervention, “Jesus is at it again and it sounds like he’s in more trouble than usual. Let’s go take him home where he will be safe.”  But “safe” wasn’t really in Jesus’ vocabulary… not when it meant choosing safe over choosing obedience to God. Any culturally constructed set of family values are to be subsumed by the call of God, regardless of how uncomfortable it may be to adopt eternal values over temporal expectations.
    God wants a family; in fact, he wants the kind of family where its reunion would strike fear into most of us because of all the crazy aunts and uncles that would be in attendance!  Repeatedly, Scripture shows God seeking out the souls of those who fit least comfortably into a human family of any description.  A few years ago, I read a provocative sermon by United Methodist Bishop William Willimon entitled “Jesus the Home Wrecker” wherein Christ is depicted on the cross, his last act being to promise yet another ne’er-do-well a place in God’s family.  Let me share two sentences from it:

“On Good Friday, as Jesus hung on the cross, he performed an amazing last act of invitation and adoption. Having been deserted by most of his family, the crucified Jesus, in a last, wild, desperate act of inclusion, invited a thief to join him in paradise—a stunningly defiant rebuke to the ways the world gathers people. Only a Savior like Jesus would parade into Paradise arm-in-arm with a criminal, some great trophy for his painful rescue operation for humanity.”

    Churches are very careful to promote themselves as having a family ministry. These days, that is a treacherous claim, for there are families that some Christians have great difficulty accepting as such.  (You know who you are.) Anyone who takes a careful look at any congregation’s makeup will discover that the configurations and understandings of what constitute a family in 21st century America have only superficial resemblances to the benchmark, gold standard nuclear family of mid-20th century America. But before we lay claim to any romanticized version of biblical family values, please read the scriptural tales about how some of these biblical families behaved! 
    The Church, in its congregational particularity, is fond of calling itself “family” but sometimes that isn’t very good news!  This is a crucial challenge for the contemporary Church and for each of us who wish to serve Christ in all people. Our great mission is to be God’s family as Jesus defined it… those who do the will of God. The family Jesus was and is gathering to himself is a family that heals us and restores to us whatever our original family, in all its frailty, good intentions, and sinfulness, simply wasn’t able to give us.
We have been welcomed into the ultimate extended family of God. We bring our dysfunctions with us but they are met at the entrance to our new home with the love, grace, mercy, and healing of God. As Richard Bach is quoted as saying, “Rarely do members of one’s family grow up under the same roof.” The roof with a steeple, though—where we gather for worship, prayer, teaching, fellowship and service—houses those of us who have been joined to God’s family.  Here is where we get our divine re-parenting so that we can truly become God’s children.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: May 25 Edition

John 3:1-17

Gospel Lesson for 
May 27

Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” 3Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” 4Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” 5Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ 8The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 9Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? 11“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 12If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17“‘Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

   The first Scripture memory verse of my life was John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”  This has been a verse I have clung to since childhood as the surety of my eternal destiny.  The verse that has been somewhat neglected follows right after: “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world…(v.17).” That sentiment is easily forgotten as we seek to discern the principalities and powers, sift out the sin from the sinner and deal with all the various vagaries of seeing “through a glass darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12).”
    The entire context surrounding John 3:16 is about Nicodemus—a religious leader—struggling with the concept of being born again.  He came to Jesus in the dead of night, that betwixt and between time when we often have our sleepless struggles with ourselves and God.  Nicodemus was a practical man, a man on his way up and with authority to make things happen.  He came to Jesus asking a lot of “how” questions.  In the church of my youth, his questions would have been answered by “The Four Spiritual Laws” or some similar formula for salvation.  Jesus was keenly aware that Nicodemus’ questions had answers that were not quantifiable. He was seeking answers about meaning, not achievement; about faith not formula; about identity not titles. No bullet-points for success, but rather the unimaginable invitation into life with God!
We veteran Christians might be lured into thinking we know all there is to know about Jesus, about God, about how to live the Christian life.  We’ve heard John 3:16 perhaps for decades.  As with Nicodemus, God still asks us to set aside what we think we know and listen again to what he wants to tell us.  Romans 8:13 warns us that to live “according to the flesh” is certain death, but to live according to the spirit is life indeed. Luther was right, of course, that John 3:16 is the “gospel in a nutshell.” “For God so loved the world,” not “for God was so angry with the world.” We begin not so much as sinners who are lost but as children who have been found.
This Sunday is the day on which we celebrate a theological concept—the Trinity.  Concepts can be hard to engage because, by definition, they are cerebral rather than experiential or emotional…unless you have already experienced the reality that the concept reflects.  In the case of the Trinity, that reality is the ever-present activity of God in the world and in our lives. Three specific realities of how we experience God are contained in the Trinity: God the Father and Creator of all things, God the Son, our Savior and example, and God the Holy Spirit in us and with us, sustaining all creation and empowering our ability and desire to be God’s own. As love is the core of our God, so the Trinity expands that vision to a “family of love” and we know ourselves to be God’s adopted and beloved children and heirs!
God initiates our life; we do not give birth to ourselves no matter how many “makeovers” we have attempted. Pr. Tom Long, reflecting on the ministry of fellow Presbyterian pastor John Buchanan, once shared a story of Pr. Buchanan’s baptism of a two-year old boy. After addressing the child in Trinitarian language, “You are a child of God, sealed by the Spirit in your baptism, and you belong to Jesus Christ forever,” the child looked up at him and responded, “Uh-oh.”
We laugh…and then we may be forced to agree with that assessment! For baptism is the moment when we are born anew into the family of God, even as that first water in our mother’s womb carried us out into the family of humankind. As we ponder this most elusive mystery of God, one-in-three, let us not forget that God is also Abba! Father! to those of us re-born by God’s Spirit. For God so loves the world…

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Pastor Dan Hoeger at or 602.866.9191 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: May 11 Edition

John 17:6-19
Gospel Lesson for 
May 13 

6‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 10All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. 12While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost so that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. 14I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. 16They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 17Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.19And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

    Is there anyone who professes Christ who has not also despaired at the lack of depth of and commitment to their prayer life? I will certainly raise my hand to that! This Sunday’s gospel reading lets us participate in one of the prayers of Jesus. But as Methodist Pastor James Howell reminds us, “…this isn't Jesus' last prayer, but it's the last one the disciples actually heard.  When he prayed in agony, ‘Let this cup pass from me--yet not my will but your will be done,’ they had fallen asleep; and when he cried out on the cross, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ they had forsaken him, fearing for their own safety.” That feels all too uncomfortably familiar to me. And yet, our loving Lord prays for his wayward, wobbling friends then and now for us, the disciples’ very descendants in the faith!
    He prays that the disciples will “be one.” God is still in the process of answering that prayer! We are so NOT one, especially these days with multitudes of denominations and each one with their internal bickering about all the minor stuff that plagues church life (as it plagues any family or community). And now that some corners of the faith have aligned themselves so closely with partisan politics, that one-ness is even more dangerously threatened. Perhaps, though, we need to step back from all the contentiousness—not only within the Church but in our relationship with the entire world—and determine whether ‘being one’ means being identical to each other or whether it just might mean living from the stance of God’s love. To do the latter has the end results of bringing us together, something only love can do.
If we were very fortunate, our first experience of God’s love was the sacrificial love of a parent or close family member. It may be only a distant memory now, but it can be called upon to renew in us a taste for the kind of love Jesus is asking the Father to encourage in our words and deeds in our family and in our world. And the best part is that he shares a great secret in this prayer. All of this seemingly impossible, painful, ego-shattering love has a grand payoff… that we may have God’s joy complete in us (v. 13)!
It is so easy to read Jesus’ prayer and instantly begin to put caveats around it…it is Jesus praying, after all. He is praying lofty things to His Father and we read about it for our edification. But aren’t these petitions to the Lord a bit “pie in the sky?” After all, just look at the state of things! Yes, that is the point. This is a prayer that we are to participate in answering! When the disciples originally asked Jesus to “teach us to pray,” we were taught a very pragmatic prayer, a prayer with tasks for us to do with God’s help… forgive others, be satisfied with our “daily” bread, praise and hallow God’s name.
I recently put a rather snarky post on Facebook to the effect that heaven will not have red and blue neighborhoods so we’d better work on getting along now! I was posting this for my own benefit as much as “preaching” to anyone else. But it speaks directly to one of the ways we become the answer to Jesus’ prayer! After all, what stuns me is that Jesus is actually acknowledging to God the Father that we are his gifts; Jesus didn’t choose us, but God gave us as gifts to partner with his Son in ministry to the world. That is a fall-on-my-knees moment, recognizing that Jesus is praying for all of his disciples down through the ages who will stay right here, struggling to be in the world and not of it, continuing his work as his hands and feet and mouth, mind and heart. As St. Teresa so famously told us, “…Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” But mine. Let us make Christ’s prayer our own, that we may be one.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: April 27 Edition

John 15:1-8
Gospel Lesson for 
Sunday April 29

15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. 2He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 77If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”

    I am not sure why there is an assumption abroad in the land that we humans have nothing to do with climate change or global warming, even in the face of our greedy and short-sighted behavior toward our environment! Can we have forgotten that when humanity first fell from God’s grace, our fore-parents had been planted squarely in a Garden from which they were summarily removed because they had unleashed what Paul described in Romans 8:18-22 as the “groaning of creation?” The earth indeed suffers profoundly from our rebellion. But God is the great gardener and continues, as John says in 15:2, to prune his vineyard and remove the vines producing no fruit. 
    The 70s had a catch-phrase (one of so many): “Bloom where you are planted.” And we are most definitely planted, even in our mobile society. We are planted with neighbors, with co-workers, with all manner of alliances and allegiances as we move through our days. Life’s rich potting soil is community where so many different root systems seek the same water and become enmeshed and entangled on that journey! Things go wrong in the worst ways when we, entwined as we are with so many others, cannot learn to love those with whom we are so connected but rather seek to uproot each other in so many devilish ways.
Catherine of Siena, a 12th century Doctor of the Church, wrote:

“Keep in mind that each of you has your own vineyard. But everyone is joined to the neighbors’ vineyards without any dividing lines. They are so joined together, in fact, that you cannot do good or evil for yourself without doing the same for your neighbors.”

   How we need that word spoken forcefully today in our fractured world where it seems the trampling of one another’s vineyards is an Olympic sport! 
    The spadework of the Christian in tending the vineyard God has given each of us begins with tilling the soil of our hearts with the word of God. Jesus said, in 15:7, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Living in such a rooted and grounded way means that what we ask of God will already be aligned with what God wants for us.
Anyone who has tended a garden probably knows that there is a lot of back-bending work involved, as well as some hard decisions to make about plants or crops that simply aren’t thriving. To arrive at a vineyard worthy of the finest wine or a field of grain worthy of the finest loaf of bread is to have worked very hard and for a long time. Growth in the Christian life is the same… “a long obedience in the same direction,” as Eugene Peterson wisely titled his book on contemporary discipleship.
May we soak our roots in this prayer ( again from Catherine of Siena) as we remember Who so wisely and lovingly and with such long-suffering patience, tends us day by day:

“And you, high eternal Trinity, acted as if you were drunk with love, infatuated with your creature. When you saw that this tree could bear no fruit but the fruit of death because it was cut off from you who are life, you came to its rescue with the same love with which you had created it: You engrafted your divinity Into the dead tree of our humanity. O sweet tender engrafting! You, sweetness itself, stooped to join yourself with our bitterness.”

    And so we make our choice to abide, to stick with God through thick and thin. We may get nicked by the divine pruning shears, but those wounds will result in more fruit…fruit to feed the world and a beautiful flowering vine soaking up the Son, swaying in the Spirit, thriving in the field of the kingdom of the Lord.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: April 13 Edition

Luke 24:36b-48

Gospel Lesson for Sunday April 15 2018

36 While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43and he took it and ate in their presence. 44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 45Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things.”

   Jesus rose from the dead with our kind of body—a body that could eat fish with his friends! He displayed time and again the importance of feeding the body as well as the spirit by sharing meals with people.  The focus of our weekly liturgy is on that most magnificent meal whereby we encounter God, each other, and even our own self around the altar of his sacrifice for us.  He is known to us in the breaking of the bread (Luke 24:35).  Luke reported that Jesus calmed the fear the disciples had upon seeing him and, as he had with Thomas, bid them to touch him and see that he was no ghost.  Then he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”  And he ate. After that he taught them and “opened their minds to understand the scriptures (v. 45).”  He showed them (and us) definitively that each of us is to be a witness in the world of what he has done for us all and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is our proclamation. 
    One of my favorite prayers from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer goes like this:

“Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ.”

    Inwardly digest.  There are scriptures that I have been chewing on for years; some could last me a lifetime (and, to play with the image, some are “quite tough and hard to chew...if not swallow!”).  I think one of the nuggets of wisdom inside this prayer is not just to hear the surface level of a piece of scripture (or, worse, not to hear it at all!), but to take the time to internalize God’s Word and let it nourish us.  We are taught to chew our food thoroughly; how much more should we make sure Scripture is properly ingested! One of the ways we will know if we have let in a word of scripture to do its transformative work (see Romans 12:2) is when we allow it to “read us” even as we read it. If we can sail right through a scripture reading—unscathed—we have probably not let it in where it can actually feed us and build us up, instruct us or change our minds.
Tragically, most of our world is in starvation mode. And not just for food for their bodies. We see daily the manifestations of those who are starving spiritually. We see it in despair, violence, hatred, confusion, addiction and all manner of exploitation. It is good for us to feed those who are physically hungry; we are also mandated and commissioned to provide spiritual food—in word and in deed—to those who may not yet realize their spiritual hunger or malnutrition. 
 Jesus wants to feed us with himself so that we might become hungry in the very same ways he is hungry… hungry for new life, for companions on the Way, for worshipful spirits and compassionate hearts.  His body and blood both satisfy and tantalize; both give us new life and summon us onward, upward, inward and outward in ever-widening circles of challenge and grace. He came back to announce that God is keeping his promises and to instruct us one more time, while in his fleshly garb, on what he came to do and what he wants us to continue to do in his name. That “last supper” was by no means a finality!  We still gather to receive spiritual and physical food in his name.  We still betray him from time to time by not doing what he clearly asks of us. We still bow before him and humbly ask for forgiveness and another chance to get it right. And he keeps feeding us his wondrous food for the soul so that our hungry hearts will be filled, eager to bring others to his Table.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.


Weekly e-Devotion: March 30 Edition

Mark 16:1-8
Gospel Lesson for 
April 1 2018


When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” 4When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. 5As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. 7But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” 8So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. 

    After these weeks of growing anticipation, one would think that the Easter story of Resurrection would be told as one grand and glorious affirmation of everything predicted since the fall of humanity! The Old Testament prophets foretold this; the angels announced it more than once and God already had set eternity in the hearts of mankind (Ecclesiastes 3:11). What in the world makes John’s rendition (and to a lesser extent, Mark’s) such a chronicle of confusion? The women who went to anoint Jesus’ body and found an empty tomb did not immediately say “He is risen.” They thought someone had stolen the body! Mary was so not expecting resurrection that she didn’t recognize Jesus as he stood by her until he spoke her name (and, oh how we can relate to that as we seek to see Jesus amidst the worldly distractions that hide him—in plain sight—before us). Mark’s gospel shows the women running from the tomb in fear.  Fear of what?  Fear that Jesus was really dead or fear that Jesus had actually arisen?  Both could strike fear in our hearts for very different reasons.  Later in Mark, we read that Peter and John did not yet understand that Jesus must rise from the dead (20:9).  As many have quipped, “This is no way to run a Resurrection!”
    I think perhaps this oh-so-human depiction of how the disciples responded and how we also likely would have responded to such transformative news adds to the truth of things.  For we, with our post-resurrection, 2000-year old eyes, who have heard this story backwards and forwards… still don’t really know what it all means. We cling to every inch of grace by faith and pray fervently that God will help us in our unbelief (Mark 9:24) and forgive our continual turning aside to the gods of this world with all their bling and allure.
    But we are not left comfortless, then or now. As the story continues, Jesus has gone on ahead of us and will meet us where he is (Mark 16:7).  Implicit in that is we are to follow him.  He has things to tell us and to show us; he has love to give us and he has work for us to do in His name. As Isaiah says, “It will be said on that day, ‘Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation’ (25:9).” Or hear the Psalmist, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it (118:24).”
    This Easter day that began for the disciples and for Mary Magdalene with confusion and fear is the very day that they began to replace fear with faith, silence with witness, confusion with commitment.  This is indeed the day that the Lord has made and he has made it a resurrection day for everyone who chooses to trust him. As Paul exclaimed, “If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:19-20a).”
    Paul picks up this theme later in the same chapter when he recites these wondrous words: “Death is swallowed up in victory. Oh death, where is thy victory? Oh death, where is thy sting? (verses 54b-55).” Without the resurrection, those verses are the ravings of a mad man. With the resurrection of Christ, it is a paean of praise to God for having one foot on the devil’s neck and his arms around his children!
    Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, we have left the sepia-tones of our old, fear-driven life for the Technicolor vistas of the eternal city of God! Christ’s resurrection has manifested itself as a 3-D, big-screen blockbuster to which we have been given major character roles! We’re not just hearing or reading this story, we are IN it! What part do you want to play as we each begin again our Easter lives? If you’re not sure, just ask him which part he made you for!  He is calling you by name and waiting for you to pick up your script!  Expect miracles.  Hallelujah!  He is risen and so are we!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.


Weekly e-Devotion: March 16 Edition

John 12:20-33
Gospel Lesson for 
March 18 2018

20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour. 27 “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour?’ No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.28Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”30Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine.31Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.

    This week’s gospel is such a rich portrayal of Jesus’ struggle with his identity and mission and the resolution that his hour has come, and all—both Jew and Gentile—would be drawn to him through his death on the cross. In this passage, Jesus chooses us over his earthly life.  As one writer put it, “He can save his life or He can be our savior, but he cannot do both.”
    Verse 24 is one of the multitude of agricultural images used in scripture and by Jesus to signal a divine truth.  Evidently, scientists concur that seeds do, in fact, die when put in the ground but, given the right conditions of soil, temperature, and moisture, these wonder-workers “turn on” again and begin to grow and produce more than we even should expect from one tiny seed hidden in the ground.
    Jesus connects this metaphor to our most important “death experience” in the very next verse (25): “Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”  Hate?  The life we have been given?  Yes, because in its unredeemed state our life is not what God intended or envisioned.  If we cling to earthly perceptions of the good life, we will completely miss the “abundant life” God has promised us. And, irony upon irony, what we fear the most will never happen because, as we kill off and surrender each attitude and action that does not spring from our relationship with God, we discover ourselves more alive and joyous than before. St. Francis knew this well and wrote, “It is in giving that we receive… it is in dying that we are raised to eternal life.” (See also Luke 6:38)
    The greatest insight in all of spirituality is the necessity of letting go.  It is a letting go of our flawed and selfish sense of who we are and deciding to really believe that our true self is “hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).” Maybe this means letting go of a career to answer a call; letting go of our notion that our bootstraps will lift us to glory and, instead, embracing the fact that the Holy Spirit is our guide into our true God-planned destiny.  And yes, this will definitely feel like dying.
    Franciscan retreat master, Fr. Richard Rohr, has written that this process of letting go is to lead us to the experience of an “identity transplant.” He writes, “…what characterizes the mystics and the sinners who have done that great collapse (back into a deep sense of who they are in God) is as Paul said it, ‘I live no longer.’ This self that I used to think was myself is precisely the self that I’m not and I stop believing its pretenses.  I stop posturing and posing and pretending and living up to this image that this little self that I took so seriously for so many years could ever be perfect, could ever be right, could ever, by itself, think well of itself.” What grace to release our failed selves into the loving arms of our Savior.  Rohr continues, “…the essential spiritual question is, ‘Where do we abide?’”
Those who approached Philip and said, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus” were told by Jesus: “Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also (v. 26).” As they say in real estate, “location, location, location.” And the best location of all is to abide with Him.  Is there a move in your future? 

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.


Weekly e-Devotion: March 2 Edition

John 2:13-22

Gospel Lesson for 
March 4 2018

13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.14In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money-changers seated at their tables. 15Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a market-place!” 17His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’18The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?”19Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?”21But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 22After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

    There aren’t too many examples in Scripture of Jesus getting angry. But there are some. Paul’s admonishment in Ephesians 4:26 to be angry but without sin would certain seem to point back to some of Jesus’ more emphatic words and actions. There were moments when Jesus expressed what amounted to anger about such things as spiritual pride, hypocrisy, hard heartedness, greed, and lackluster commitment to God. In this week’s gospel, we see him really getting after those who were mixing commerce with religion, turning his Father’s house into a marketplace. He literally fashioned a whip to send them and their goods flying! This was not a picture of Jesus making a gentle suggestion that we reorganize our priorities. 
    One would hope that this is about more than a small bookstore in the narthex of a church, although who knows? But he continues on to deliberately conflate the temple that was being defiled by an ancient version of corporate corruption with himself, his body as the temple that would be destroyed and rebuilt in three days. There is more than one level of meaning at play in this story.
In fact, another level to this story, and the one that may hit closest to home for many of us, is that these money-changing temple defilers are precisely the same people Jesus will shortly be dying to redeem! They are one version of us; he sees through their false piety and the cover-ups they employed to throw a veil over their real motives… just as he sees through our pretexts and pretensions. And he loved them even as he was strongly opposed to their behavior. That whip he fashioned was the exclamation point on his denouncement of their actions, not their being. A lesson we Christians still need to learn about ourselves and those around us.
With whip flying, my sense is that Jesus was not so much interested in driving out those money-changers as he was committed to an upheaval of the status quo. For the fact that complicates a simple ‘good vs evil’ reading of this story is that those money-changers were actually an integral part of facilitating worship in the temple! Those who came long distances without the proper currency (currency with images of Caesar could not be used to pay temple taxes) or without a sacrificial animal to offer were serviced by these merchants and bankers. Jesus’ wrath broke forth because this whole worshipping apparatus was corrupt, insufficient and unsustainable and he was there to bring it to the ground! What had once been a conduit to God was increasingly becoming a great barrier. Jesus came to break down the barriers once and for all between God and humanity. This action of his (whips and all) was a great symbol of divine renewal and reconstruction!
Dan Clendenin, in his blog post, “Subtle as a Sledge Hammer” wrote:

I read the cleansing of the temple as a stark warning against any and every false sense of security. Misplaced allegiances, religious presumption, pathetic excuses, smug self-satisfaction, spiritual complacency, nationalist zeal, political idolatry, and economic greed in the name of God are only some of the tables that Jesus would overturn in his own day and in ours.”

    One of our Lenten tasks is not only to think of our personal “temple cleaning,” taking the whip to some of our own bad practices. We must also carefully consider the ways in which our churches and our communities become barriers rather than entryways for those who seek God and God’s love, grace, mercy and peace. Let us join God in overturning those barriers wherever we find them.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: February 16 Edition

Mark 1:9-15
Gospel Lesson for 
Sunday February 18 2018

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.11And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” 12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. 14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” 

    Ah, Lent!  That great “Forty Days.” Days often used to re-set our derailed New Year’s resolutions and re-brand them as our Lenten discipline.  It is said to take about forty days to imprint a new habit into our brains and make it something we do as part of our routine every day.
    Mark, in this passage, doesn’t let us catch our breath as we read in a few short verses God’s ringing endorsement of Jesus upon his baptism, then ‘immediately’ (as Mark loves to say), God’s catapulting Jesus into the wilderness where we see him fighting the wild beasts (of evil) while being attended to by the angels (of God).  Finally, with startling suddenness, John is arrested and Jesus is preaching his first sermon in Galilee.  Eugene Peterson’s contemporary voice of scripture called The Message renders Mark’s urgent telling this way: “Time’s up! God’s Kingdom is here.  Change your life and believe the Message.”  It doesn’t get any clearer than that.
    And so we each begin our Lenten journey through our divinely-appointed, individually-crafted wilderness.  It’s not as obvious as giving up chocolate for forty days or committing to reading the Bible every day (although both are commendable!).  This is about repeating in our lives and in the corporate lives of our Christian communities the pattern of death and resurrection pre-figured in the Old Testament with the Israelites’ forty-year sojourn in their wilderness and, then again, with Jesus’ temptations in his ordained wilderness.  These wild, barren, parched times do not come to any of us by accident.  They come to us from the hand of a loving God who will use whatever means are at hand to coax us back to himself.
    When I first moved to Arizona 27 years ago, I saw the desert as exactly what that word conjures… a barren, hotter than you-know-where place with scrubby little hills the locals referred to as mountains (of all things!), and dangerous critters (of both the animal and vegetable varieties) that made walking barefoot in your own yard a hazard. I suddenly identified with every desert reference in scripture in a very personal way.  Having now clocked some years and miles on my “wilderness experience,” I can gaze at a sweeping desert landscape and see profound beauty; I can bend down to investigate a flowering cactus and see glory looking back at me.  What changed?  I did.  I began to learn about all the diverse life in the desert that my Midwestern eyes were not trained to see.  This desert wilderness has been a learning experience on any number of levels.
    And I think that’s what is going on when God brings us down from the Mount of Transfiguration into the wilderness of our challenges, temptations, sorrows, addictions, diseases, enemies, and failures.  We are there to learn; we’re there to grow closer to God. Israel needed forty years’ worth of teaching and learning before God ushered them into their promised land. How long will we wander?
    Join with the Psalmist as he prayed in Psalm 25:4-5: “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.”  All Lent long. All my life long. May this season of reflection produce at its end a great and glorious Hallelujah!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: February 2 Edition

1 Corinthians 9:16-23

Epistle Reading for 
Sunday February 4 2018

16 If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe betide me if I do not proclaim the gospel! 17For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. 18What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel. 19 For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. 20To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. 21To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. 22To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I might by any means save some. 23I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.

   It is a daunting thing to consider becoming, as Paul claimed to have done, “all things to all people, that I might by all means save (v. 22).” Paul felt compelled by God not only to proclaim the Gospel by example but to engage in a deep identification with each person with whom he dealt.  Last week we read that Paul would never eat meat again if, by eating it, he was making it more difficult for someone to find God.  In this passage, Paul displayed his com+passion… his willingness to “suffer with” another in order that each might find God as he had.   
    Do we share with Paul this urge to tell others what God has done in our lives?  If so, what stops us? If not, it’s time to reflect on our life in Christ and find the story he has given us to share! It is not news that in any community there are essentially two kinds of people… those who need help and those who need to help or those who heal and those who need healing. Any of us might be on one side of that equation today and the other tomorrow. But when I have been healed it is not for my own sake only but so that I can be placed back into a position to participate in the healing of others.  There is a divine dynamic at work.  We read of it in Jesus’ healing of Simon’s mother-in-law; he took her hand, lifted her up, healed her fever and she then began to serve them.  “Healed to serve” isn’t a bad tag-line for each of us, whether we have been spiritually or physically healed.
When something exciting happens to us, we share it, whether we use Facebook, an e-mail, a blog, a phone call, or we tap someone on the shoulder and start a conversation!  It is as though we can’t stop ourselves because we are bubbling over with our good news and good fortune!  That may be the closest analogy to what Paul is trying to tell us about his compulsion to communicate the life of Christ to the world. He was completely willing to accommodate his own ego, his cultural preferences, his attire, diet and social status if it would make his message of salvation more understandable and relevant to his hearers.  He didn’t compromise the Gospel, but was willing to compromise his comfort zones to share the Gospel.  He may be the origin of the phrase, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do!”
As a new creation in Christ, we have the power to freely interact with people where they are, not where we might prefer they be, and to be with them—as midwife—in their struggles to be re-born. We can identify with all people in their brokenness, even as we are broken. With the heart of our loving Savior, we can walk with them toward their salvation. Paul was not without his own mixed motives for sharing the faith.  He said in verse 23 that he did it for the sake of the Gospel and so that he could share in its blessings. If you have found God working in your life…a physical healing, the healing of a relationship, the resolution of a dilemma…if you can proclaim that the Lord has lifted you into new life, tell somebody!  You will be amazed at the blessings of the Gospel, multiplied for the world and made real to you by sharing your piece of the Gospel story! Discover your story. Tell your story. Live out of that story because our lives are little Gospels—lives filled to overflowing with God’s Good News!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: January 19 Edition

Jonah 3:1-5, 10
First Reading for 
Sunday January 21 2018

The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, 2"Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” 3So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. 4Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.
 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it

   Everybody likes a good story, especially if it is laced with wisdom and a dose of humor.  The Book of Jonah delivers on both counts.    
   Here’s the story in a nutshell:  Our protagonist, the reluctant prophet Jonah, was given the unenviable task of proclaiming doom to Israel’s most fearsome oppressor and enemy, Assyria, and to do so in the midst of its biggest, most forbidding capital city, Nineveh. Upon hearing of his assignment from the Lord, Jonah promptly took off—in the opposite direction!  He freely told his shipmates that he was not only fleeing Nineveh but the Lord himself.  (At least Jonah was self-aware!)  But as the ship begins to pitch, Jonah—in a moment of selflessness—told his mates to throw him overboard as he was no doubt the cause of their distress.   
Since God wasn’t quite through with Jonah, he arranged for a whale-taxi to swallow up our prophet and courier him right straight back to where God wanted him to be in the first place to confront again his dreaded prophetic assignment.  Accepting his second chance, Jonah took off for Nineveh, stepped nervously into town and delivered the most feeble (almost “under his breath”) proclamation of doom ever recorded as a prophetic utterance.  Amazingly, he got results Billy Graham in his heyday could only dream about. When all was said and done even the animals in that town were decked out in sackcloth and ashes.
Okay, that should have made Jonah very satisfied.  Nope.  He was furious. Jonah threw a whale of a tantrum (sorry; couldn’t help it) and said, “I just knew you would be merciful to these guys.  That’s why I didn’t want to warn them in the first place.  They repented, you forgave them, and I’m mad.”  He stalked off.  God sighed and grew a tree for Jonah for rest and shade. When it wilted and died the next day, Jonah got ticked off again and decided, in true high dudgeon, that he’d be better off dead.  God just had to be smiling at this high-maintenance prophet of his. So, God gently explained to Jonah (as a mother might explain to her mulish child) all about his mercy to this city “in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals.” If you aren’t chuckling by the end of the Book of Jonah, you need a humor transplant! 
Stories, if they are good stories, draw us in and, before we know it, we’re identifying with at least one of the characters. It is way too easy to identify with Jonah! How like him we can be when confronted with even an inkling of what God expects of us! And when we then discover we are to minister to a person or situation that frightens us or that we feel should, by rights, remain in its distress, how like Jonah we are as we run away or stamp our feet or pretend we didn’t hear a thing.  We pray for God’s will to be done every Sunday, but what if that meant we had to do something that scared us nearly to death or offended our very sense of how we believe the world should work?
I can identify with Jonah…his reluctance to give God his all, his disappointment that God doesn’t see the world the same way he does, the aggravation that mercy trumps justice, my annoyance that things can’t just go my way for a change…all of it.  And yet, I find our great, compassionate, patient Lord working with me and around me to accomplish his purposes.  God knows I will get it eventually.  I’d better. The alternative is probably messy, smelly and dark!

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: January 5 Edition

Genesis 1:1-5

First Reading
for Sunday 
January 7 2018

1In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 3Then God said, “Let there be light;” and there was light. 4And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

    This scripture evokes the experience of sitting in a dark theatre waiting for the curtain to be raised, the orchestra to swell and a great story to begin!  Vast, formless darkness, a great encompassing wind (ruach in Hebrew) swooping and sailing over the waters of the earth like a majestic bird…all in an attempt to display for an early generation of Hebrews the magnificence of our very existence and the God who called it into being! Some biblical scholars describe the entire creation narrative as a confession rather than a recitation of facts, a poem instead of a documentary. And that is where trouble can begin! 
    In modern days, there is a special assortment of litmus tests for one group of Christians to evaluate another group and one is how we believe God created the world.  Created the world… not allowed it to evolve, or sat back and lit a fuse on the “big bang.” And, by the way, how many hours were in each of those creation days?  If, in fact, a day is as a thousand years to the Lord (2 Peter 3:8), those were mighty long days indeed to accomplish the birthing of the world.
There is a big difference between truth writ large and “just the facts, ma’am.” If the word “myth” were not so fraught with the connotation of fiction, it would be a good word to use for this creation story as it also connotes the sense of uber-truth: the truth behind and beyond any mere facts that can be collected and recited by our finite efforts.
Those who are unyielding in their requirement that the Bible be a literal history; a spreadsheet of spirituality, so to speak, are often those who unintentionally divert others from the faith.  Pope John Paul II is quoted as saying, “The Bible itself speaks to us of the origin of the universe and its make-up, not in order to provide us with a scientific treatise, but in order to state the correct relationships of man with God and with the Universe…the Bible does not wish to teach how the heavens were made but how one goes to heaven.” (
Any who cling to literalism in all things biblical, run the risk of inserting human understandings into God’s revelation rather than allowing God’s story to be the story of infinite meaning and grace that it actually is.  The sin of pride (hubris in the Greek) can infect even our reading of Scripture. We daren’t ‘adjust’ scripture to our preferred beliefs, but humble ourselves and ask for God’s truth to be revealed to us through God’s Holy Spirit.
This creation passage is linked with Sunday’s Gospel lesson in Mark relating the story of Jesus’ baptism.  Again, we have water and the Spirit of God bringing order out of chaos, life out of primal elements, redemption back into God’s kingdom, the Light of the World dispelling the darkness of sin.  The creation story comes full circle as God (who never abandoned his creation) has done everything to bring us back to himself and make us a new creation. Read the Thanksgiving at the Font (ELW, p. 230) for a beautiful prayer recounting these connections for us.
That same water, the wind of the Spirit and the Light present at the beginning of the world are given again to each of us who give ourselves back to God through his Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. As at the beginning, God brings order out of chaos for each of his children. These elemental realities (and the vehicles of Baptism and Epiphany) are both fact and, more than fact,… the very essence of new and eternal life with God.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: December 22 Edition

Luke 1:26-38
Gospel Reading for Sunday
December 24 2017

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ 29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin? 35The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

   The first two chapters of Luke contain some of our most treasured songs/prayers, all of which have been included in liturgies for centuries.  The Magnificat (1:46-55), the Benedictus (1:67-79), the Gloria (2:14) and the Nunc Dimittis (2:29-32). These canticles joyously express the entire scope of salvation history, from the first Advent of Jesus to the second Advent when Christ returns in glory. 
    Luther wrote about Mary in his Commentary on the Magnificat:

“Tell me, was not hers a wondrous soul? She finds herself the Mother of God, exalted above all mortals, and still remains so simple and so calm that she does not think of any poor serving maid as beneath her.  Oh, we poor mortals! If we come into a little wealth or might or honor, or even if we are a little prettier than other men, we cannot abide being made equal to anyone beneath us, but are puffed up beyond all measure.  What should we do if we possessed such great and lofty blessings?”

    But, we DO possess such great and lofty blessings because, even as Jesus physically entered into Mary that she might bring him forth as God’s Son on earth, so he enters each of us as, by faith, we accept the call of God in Christ Jesus.  We are called to be like Mary, en-fleshing God’s love for the world. Meister Eckhart put it most bluntly, “We are all meant to be mothers of God.” 
    Mary’s Song harks back to Hannah’s Song in the Old Testament (1 Samuel 2:1-10), voiced on the occasion of her dedication of her son Samuel to God. Both are songs of praise to a God who not only provides, but who provides and sustains those who are least able to sustain themselves. “His mercy is to those who fear him (v. 50).” It is the “upside-down, tables-are-turned” Gospel message of God’s faithfulness and provision for his children. And it is sung by each of us as it was sung by Mary, that is, by any humble servant who is willing to receive the Word of God.
We not only sing these realities, we are called to help enact them by our participation in God’s activities in the world.  Mary’s “Yes” was anticipated by all of creation and it inaugurated the entrance of the Kingdom of God into our lives and into our world. Our “Yes” to God continues the Holy Spirit’s activity in the world.  It is not a cliché to remind ourselves that we are the hands and feet, eyes and ears, head and heart of God.
Noted author Kathleen Norris writes about this passage:

“It is the barren Hannahs, the young Davids and the innocent Marys who hear and believe, and further God’s reign on earth.  As many times as we turn away from their witness, God has put us together on the road to Jerusalem. It is never the right time, and we are never ready. We have other, more important things to do and places to be.  The burden is too great for us to carry.  But once we say, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord,’ the angel will depart, and the path will open before us.”

    In Luke 1:37, the angel declares that nothing is impossible with God.  That was proclaimed to Mary but, as fellow bearers of the image of God, we also must hear that declaration and live faithfully out of its Truth.  God waits for us to join with Mary who responded, “Be it unto me according to your word.” May Christ be born in each of us today.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: December 8 Edition

2 Peter 3:8-15a
2nd Reading for Sunday December 10 2017

But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. 9The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.11 Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness,12waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? 13But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. 14 Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; 15and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.

    Every road trip we took as I was growing up included some version of an “Are we there yet?” chorus from the back seats of the family car. We kids couldn’t determine from the road signs if we were one minute or three hours from our anticipated destination. Truly, for us, “a day was like a thousand years,” but we firmly believed we would eventually arrive where we planned to go.  
    This week, we read Peter reminding the believers in Rome that God lives completely outside of and beyond our concepts of time, making our time-bound impatience about how and when God might do this or that, or how and when he might return, very much beside the point!
This question of “When are you coming back?” began very early in the Christian era.  As the original followers began to die off, so did the hopes and expectations of some believers.  This is what Peter is addressing in this passage.  The reasoning seemed to be - If there really isn’t going to be an imminent return (or perhaps any return at all) - then we really are on our own and can pretty much do whatever we want… no judgment expected.  How very familiar this sounds, even today!
Peter is affirming God’s righteousness when he emphasizes the certainty of the Lord’s return even as he admits it will come like a thief (See also, 1 Thessalonians 5:2 where the return is as a “thief in the night;” Matthew 24:44 and Luke 12:40).  Because the Lord’s return hadn’t happened shortly after Christ’s resurrection (and, of course, has yet to happen), Peter reminds us that God’s time is not our time.  What we think is taking “forever” is, for God, like a day. As Peter states in 3:9, God prefers to tarry until as many as possible come to know and trust him.  As the psalmist says in 90:4-12, “For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night…so teach us to count our days, that we may gain a wise heart.”
 The depiction of the fiery end of all things is not so much to strike fear in our hearts as to give us a graphic picture of the end of all unpleasantness, evil and misery. The image invokes the refiner’s fire of Malachi where all will be purified, the dross removed and all that will remain is Love and righteousness. Peter delivers in this passage the admonition to live as though this has already taken place because indeed it will. 
This summer we watched helplessly as the northwest burned up, the southeast flooded out, the citizens of the nations rioted, protested, and most of us lived with some level of anxiety or outright fear of the future. Mark 13:8 helps us to understand that even these kinds of things, while they may be portents, are not the end but the beginning of what God plans to do to create a new heaven and earth. When, in God’s good time, the day of the Lord is at hand, then the crooked paths of evil, deception and disappointment will be made straight; all our tears will be wiped away, and the answer to our heart’s desire will be, “Yes, we have finally arrived! We are home.” While we wait for the return of the Prince of Peace, let us practice living in His peace right now.

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: November 24 Edition

Matthew 25:31-46

Gospel Lesson
for Sunday November 
26 2017

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ 41Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’44Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” 

   We are accustomed to presidents, not kings.  We elect them and in the next election cycle, if we’re not happy, we boot them out!  Kings don’t come and go so easily. With kings, it’s the subjects who get the boot if they are “unprofitable servants (cf. Luke 17:10).”  As Christians, we are asked to participate in two worlds, e.g., the earthly world where we engage a government that often disappoints or betrays our trust, and the Kingdom of God where we are full citizens with responsibilities to carry out that fulfill God’s desires for both “worlds.” So, if Christ is our King and we are his humble, obedient servants…why are the hungry not fed, the sick not healed, the prisoners not visited…at least in numbers that encourage others to find and serve our King along with us? 
    I have never understood how the more progressive end of the church is consistently maligned by conservatives for promoting a “social gospel.” It seems obvious to me that if I am starving to death, rotting in prison, wandering the streets or captured by terrorists, I would want my immediate, critical need met before I would be able to pay very much attention to what might happen to my soul at some future date. In fact, the meeting of any temporal need becomes the natural opening for a spiritual conversation!
In this final judgment scene, both the “sheep” and the “goats” are equally surprised by God’s decision about their actions (or inaction), and, rather than feeling “sheep-like,” feel, at the very least, “sheepish!” Consternation abounds: “Lord, when was it that we saw you…?” which sounds suspiciously like a fatal unfamiliarity with their supposed “shepherd.”
Martin Luther once wrote, “God doesn’t need your good works; your neighbor does.”  Each time we choose to feed the hungry, visit the sick or those in prison, shelter the homeless or clothe the naked we are exercising our spiritual muscles doing the work of discipleship. When we neglect or refuse to participate in what have been called these “corporal works of mercy,” we become weak and ineffective Christians and, as this gospel passage suggests, subject to a judgment we would rather avoid.  Each decision we make takes us further down one road or the other.  The road “paved with good intentions” has a great and dreadful sinkhole at its end.
God’s love and desire for his people is seen with the most light when we are imitating Christ in his compassion for others.  It is our vocation while on this earth to be the hands and feet, the head and heart of our Lord to the rest of his children.  The old adage, “Charity begins at home” is actually quite wise.  For most of us, that is our first experience of unconditional love.  Being able to receive the gifts of that love and then learning to give that love ourselves, we begin to understand what God is asking of us.  When we live out of God’s unconditional love for us, the world will know in whom we believe. When our King returns, will he find us busy with kingdom work? The Talmud reminds us of the core of our mandate: “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”

e-Devotion author: Nance Wabshaw.
If you are interested in becoming an e-Devotion author, please contact Carole Becker at or 602.319.0959 .

The e-Devotion can also be viewed on the All Saints website or our Facebook page.

Weekly e-Devotion: November 10 Edition

Matthew 25:1-13

Gospel Lesson for Sunday
November 12 2017

1Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaidstook their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; 4but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.5As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept.6But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9But the wise replied, ‘No! There will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ 10And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. 11Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’13Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”   

    As I read this passage, a childhood gospel chorus came back to me:

“Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning (burning, burning)
Give me oil in my lamp, I pray
Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning (burning, burning)