URC Daily Devotion 2 February 2023

Thursday 2 February 2023
 

St Matthew 8: 23 – 34
 

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A gale arose on the lake, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing!’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, you of little faith?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?’ When he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs coming out of the tombs met him. They were so fierce that no one could pass that way.  Suddenly they shouted, ‘What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?’  Now a large herd of swine was feeding at some distance from them.  The demons begged him, ‘If you cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.’  And he said to them, ‘Go!’ So they came out and entered the swine; and suddenly, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and perished in the water.  The swineherds ran off, and on going into the town, they told the whole story about what had happened to the demoniacs.  Then the whole town came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their neighbourhood.

Reflection

A family holiday in the Philippines a few years ago to visit our elder daughter teaching in Manila came to mind with this two-part reading. 

Part of the trip was a stay over Christmas on a paradise island. What we didn’t anticipate was finding ourselves rocking helplessly in the dark in a small flat boat on a lively sea. The engine broke down and the crew had no radio or mobile phone to call for assistance. Our craft turned helplessly in circles for more than an hour with the waves washing over us before we were rescued by another boat and taken wet and unsettled to the island to be cosseted back to life by the lovely staff. There’s nothing quite like that experience to make one appreciate why the disciples were afraid!  The next day, we woke in our small villas to the squeals of a pig, brought in on a boat to be despatched somewhere out of sight and buried in a fire pit on the beach to provide the traditional Christmas Eve dinner.

So much for memories. In our reading, there are two particularly interesting sections. It was the demoniacs – doubtless victims of severe mental illness – who recognised Jesus as the Son of God and begged him to save them from their suffering, and like the disciples on the stormy sea they were grateful for the demonstration of his powers. The townspeople asked Jesus to leave. It is reasonable to assume that any gratitude they felt for now being able to pass the tombs safely was outweighed by fear that he would ruin them by killing more of their precious herd. They were not grateful. Their economic interests prevailed. They turned him away.

Are you always as grateful as you should be for the influence of Jesus in your lives? Regretfully, I know that I am not!

Prayer

Lord, help us to accept both life’s challenges and your restoring help with grace and gratitude.
Help us to remember that no problem is too large or too small for us to call out to you.
Amen

 

 

 

Today’s writer

Pat Stannard, Elder, Muswell Hill URC 

 

Copyright

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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