Devotions for the week of: July 1, 2020


Matthew 8:14-17

When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him. When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

“He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.”

Of Servants and Serving   

With a few silent nods and winks, our extended family delighted in counting the number of times my mother would pop-up from the dinner table to refill the bowls and platters with more food. Always strategically seated nearest the kitchen, she carefully watched that nothing would ever be empty.

For many years I misinterpreted my mother’s service and servanthood as an old-fashioned understanding of her role as a woman. I came to understand (ashamed now by my own prejudice) that when she “got up and began to serve” she was living out her call – that of extravagant hospitality. Her professional calling as a nurse also included the generous hospitality that is healing, listening, calming, and caring.

One Sunday morning in the late 1980s, I was sitting in a pew with my two squirming little boys at Trinity Lutheran Church in LaCrosse, Wisc. There was a guest preacher that day. I don’t recall her name, or even the content of her sermon. But hearing a woman preach was a rare thing for me. My heart was stirred, and I remember thinking: “This is the voice I have been missing!” To hear a sister in Christ from the pulpit that day was a joy I have not forgotten.

At my mother’s funeral, my daughter-in-law, Kristen, an ELCA pastor, delivered the sermon. At that service, Kristen used the text from Matthew 8: Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law who promptly got up to serve. It was an unusual funeral text, but perfect.

Kristen was born into a church that now, thank God, fully embraces full partnership in the ministry of Word and Sacrament.  I am grateful that God has called women to ministries of love and caring, healing, action, and service. I am grateful that the voices I had been missing are free to preach and preside, and to offer platters overflowing from God’s abundant table!

How many times did my mother jump up to refill the bowls?
I can only say “always” and thank you, dear mom!

And, thanks be to God.

Deacon Katherine M Eisele
Spirit of Joy, Sioux Falls

Gracious God, we give thanks for the ways You come among us, today and every day. In Jesus’ holy name we pray. Amen.

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