Devotion from Rebekah Richey

I don’t know about you, but during this Pandemic, I sometimes imagine the unseen Coronavirus as a “thief coming to steal, kill and destroy.” (John 10:10). I am thankful my grandmother taught me, “when I am afraid, I will trust in God.” Psalm 56:3

During these days, I believe we all have visual images and stories of kindness to share. A long time family friend who could not accompany his wife inside the hospital for her surgery remained in his car to prayerfully wait for any news. Teacher friends delivered cards to our friend alone in the hospital before she moved alone to a nursing home.  The son of my dear friend and his fellow inmates in a federal prison are fearful of the spreading coronavirus due to measures not being taken to sanitize or provide masks and gloves. Psalm 102:20 “…the Lord gazed out from heaven to earth—to hear a prisoner’s groaning.”

Large numbers of “essential workers” such as medical staff, farmworkers, nursing home workers, grocery workers, postal and delivery drivers, are included as first responders and we rightly call them heroes because we realize they are risking their own lives to serve us.  Let’s come along side them with more than kind words since we know they need personal protective gear, living wages, affordable housing or health care.  As Dr. King reminded us “all labor has dignity,”   Jesus called on us to “love your neighbor as yourself?  Mark 12:21

How grateful we should be that farmworkers continue to harvest food so we can purchase it in grocery stores and share it through our own Picnic Project with our Sanford neighbors who are food insecure.  Yet, just a couple of days ago the number of positive tests among Immokalee farmworkers had risen to 27. Social distancing is impossible when 3-4 families must share rooms in the same trailer; to acquire personal protective gear is nearly impossible.  Psalm 146: 6-7“…he defends the wronged, he feeds the hungry.”

Marlyssa Gamblin and Bread for the World reports how the history of racial inequity in our country has led to higher rates of hunger, health challenges, loss of jobs or working in the 10 lowest paying jobs for people of color. She calls these “preexisting conditions,” leading to  African Americans, Latinos and Indigenous people contracting and dying of COVID-19 at higher rates, sometimes twice as high, as their white counterparts.

As a teacher, my heart goes out to the families, children and all educators, working to insure than children are not falling behind in their education during this time of “home schooling,” How good that our school system is attempting to provide school lunches to those who are in need.  Matthew 25 :…”I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat.”

This stay at home and social distancing we are choosing to follow has been a challenge but I am grateful that it has afforded me time to be more intentional in prayer, meditation and study. Turning off the news to “Be still and know that I am God, “ (Psalm 46:10) helps me listen for the quiet voice of the Spirit.  Even though at times I feel overwhelmed, anxious or angry, sad or shocked, I am choosing to spend more time to read, study and contemplate.  I have braved ZOOM to connect with family and friends and reach out more by phone calls. Music has played a huge role for me from when I was a child. I recently I recalled how  my father had introduced me to Mahalia Jackson and we sang with her “He’s God the Whole World in His Hands”.   My mother, whose birthday is today April 26th, taught us Great is Thy Faithfulness which resonates with many in our family. So at a time when we can’t hold hands let us remember in the words of an old song, “Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand, I am tired, I am weak, I am worn, lead me on through the night, through the storm…”  We can know that God is leading us.   I believe we are blessed with Pastors Meghan and David Killingsworth who help us learn more about God and how to “Love thy Neighborhood.” May we take the risk of joining together, even though virtually, to do our part in building this part of the “beloved community” open to all. May we  recognize that nudge reminding us that Jesus is not only here but walking with us on this journey and God promised in :


Isaiah 43:2

When you pass through the waters,

I will be with you;

and when you pass through the rivers,

they will not sweep over you

When you walk through the fire,

you will not be burned.

the flames will not set you ablaze.


God of life, we give thanks that you are with us in our grief and in our laughter, that you have always been there through our individual storms of life including this Coronavirus Pandemic .  By your Spirit, may we come closer to you, especially now, as love requires that we keep our distance from one another and closer to one another.


Devotion from Scott Russell

Who am I?

These are unique times. We face being told to stay indoors, educate children ourselves, work from home. Many people may have lost their jobs or perhaps the roles in their families have shifted.
These circumstances can result in a feeling of, “Who am I now?”  We’re no longer the manager, accountant, server or mechanic. We are no longer the provider for our family. We have lost our identity. We live in fear.
But that is because we’ve focused on WHAT we are instead of WHO we are in Christ. Consider some of the promises made to those who believe in Him:

We are children of God (John 1:12).

We are given a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

We can approach God with confidence to find grace and help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16). We are reminded that worrying doesn’t solve anything, and that God will help with things big and small (Luke 12:22-26).

Don’t forget who you are and how much you are loved!


Lord, without You our minds race with worry. Our priorities get all jumbled up. We can’t see how it will all work out. But, thankfully, You do know. Help us to calm our minds and listen for Your voice. Help us to separate our needs from our wants. And, Lord, forgive us when You hear us say, “I believe! Help me in my unbelief!” Amen


Devotion from Meghan Killingsworth

“I Thirst.” -Jesus (John 19:28)
One of my favorite books right now is Prayer by Justin McRoberts and Scott Erickson. If you’ve been in worship with us recently (pre-COVID) you’ve probably heard me talk about this work of art. It combines an artist’s prayerful image and a pray-er’s artistic eye for what God might teach us in this moment. One of the prayers strikes me every time I accidentally find it again: May my limitations be doorways to partnership and relationship rather than reasons to feel shame and isolation.
In our world, we’re often given the impression that the most powerful and celebrated person should be the one with no needs. We’re told that what we should be striving for is self-sufficiency. Now certainly, we all have gifts and skills and assets that God has blessed us with and it is our job to use them! We believe that the world suffers when we aren’t who God created us to be, and we when we don’t use the gifts God gave us. And at the same time, having gifts and skills and investing in your world is not the same as being need-less. Even if you grew all your own food, built your own home and sewed your own clothes, we’re learning more and more these days that humans don’t survive well without connection. It turns out, we’re actually created to need one another. In fact, our needs have a way of weaving us together in relationship with one another beautifully. I cannot be everything! And therefore, I get the joy of offering my needs and skills in combination with others.
I think this is at least one of the things Jesus models for us from the cross. In his darkest and most dreadful moment, he offers these words to those around him: I thirst. Jesus doesn’t shy away from having needs or seeing the needs of others. In fact, he recognizes those and weaves people together across lines of ‘need’ and ‘gift’. It turns out that all of us are actually on both sides of that coin. So, in this time when we may all be acutely aware of our limitations, our loneliness, or our barren pantries, know that it is following in the footsteps of Jesus to allow our limitations and needs to be doorways to relationship.
Holy God, give us eyes to see our own needs, our own gifts, and the opportunities for relationship with you and others. Help us to see ourselves and others as you do. Thank you for being the sort of God who shows us what it means to truly be human. Amen.

Devotion from Drew Weiss

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.

Matthew 5:3-10 (NET)


In times of struggle and stress, I find myself reading Christ’s Sermon on the Mount.  There is always a verse or a teaching or a parable from these chapters that are pertinent to the situation that caused me to turn to them.  Instructions on how to treat others, or on how to do good for other, or on how to approach biblical law.  In this time of collective struggle and stress, I have found myself turning to the Sermon on the Mount more often than usual.  It has made me recognize that the instructions given in Christ’s sermon are largely personal, at least from the perspective of a reader two thousand years later.  It makes me wish to be among the people who heard this sermon, to understand the community Christ was addressing.  I wish to be a part of that crowd.

The reason why I chose the Beatitudes specifically is because I just finished a Bible study with a group on these verses.  We began before covid-19 made its way to the States, so we got the chance to meet in person.  About halfway through our study we started using online platforms to host meetings.  Through our study, my wish came true.  Being able to understand scripture in the context of our own small community was a blessing each week.  The honesty and love expressed in our group helped to erase the alienation time and culture had imposed on me in these texts.  I have found my crowd.

Thankyou to Bonnie Klein for hosting this study.  I am grateful that from now on when I think of the Beatitudes, I will think of you as well.  Thankyou to our pastors, David and Meghan, who remain committed to creating a generously loving and inclusive church.


Father God I pray that as this crises continues we are able to find communities to belong to even as we remain physically distanced.

Devotion from Bonnie Klein

“Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever, for wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons, removes kings and sets up kings. He reveals deep and mysterious things; he knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with him.”  (Daniel 2:20-23)


King Nebuchadnezzar had demanded that his magicians, enchanters, and sorcerers tell him the dream he dreamed and its interpretation or they would be “torn limb from limb.” They were terrified, for who can tell another man his dreams? But Daniel, now among the court wise men, urged his companions to ask God for mercy concerning this mystery so that they would not all perish. In a vision that night, God revealed all to Daniel, who responded with the words above.

We find ourselves, certainly now but also at many other times, feeling helpless and even hopeless in the face of overwhelming circumstances. Sometimes it feels like we can’t breathe, and we just want to throw up our hands and shout, “What do you want me to do?!” Daniel gives us the answer. We remember that the God of the Universe, who has power beyond imagining, wants the best for us, wants to love us, and IS present with us. We can ask him for mercy and seek his assistance, knowing that, every time, he will be with us in our trials.


Holy Father, you have sacrificed your Son so that we may be reconciled to you—you love us that much. Help us to keep our focus on our relationship with you, that we may experience the peace Jesus said he gives to each of us. Praise you, God, for your honor and power and glory. Amen.

Devotion from Henry Jehan

Proverbs Chapter 3, Versus 5-6, Source: New King James Version (NKJV)

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Note: Alternate translations for verse 6 : “make smooth your paths” or “make straight your paths”


I can still remember back when I was a small boy.  Whenever something would scare me or make me afraid, my mother would tell me “we must not rely on our understanding, we must trust in the Lord,” and everything will be all right.  It wasn’t until I was older, and reading the Bible for myself, that I realized that her message of assurance came form the Holy Scriptures.  She was just paraphrasing what I believe to be some of the most profound advice in the Bible, Proverbs chapter 3, versus 5 and 6.

I don’t know if it was the memories of my mother’s words, or some sort of a conscious act of my own, but throughout my life these Bible verses have become ingrained in my thinking and served as an anchor  in all I do.   As a mere human, my vision is limited to my experience and knowledge, but the Lord of love is all knowing, always present and all powerful.  He is unlimited.  He knows the past and He sees the future.  Again and again when I have placed my trust in the Lord, He has directed my path;  often in ways I would have never chosen.  Sometimes it’s a wonderful journey, and other times He leads me through dark and fearful valleys.  But when I look back, I realize that if I hadn’t passed through the dark and fearful valley I would have never known the new opportunities and blessings He has bestowed on me.  Sometimes God says “no” as so aptly summed up by Garth Brooks in his song “Unanswered Prayers.”  Often taking us on a path we would not have chosen on our own, the Lord will protect us and guide us if we have the courage to trust Him with all our heart.


Most Glorious and Awesome Lord God, help me to strengthen my faith that I may put aside my fears and lack of understanding, and fully trust You to direct my paths to the glory of Your kingdom.

Devotion from Angie Royal


 Isaiah 60:2 NLT “The glory of the Lord rises and appears over you.”

Isaiah 52:2 NLT “Rise from the dust, O Jerusalem. Sit in a place of honor.”

Jeremiah 31: 20 MSG “Oh! Ephraim is my dear, dear son, my child in whom I take pleasure. Every time I mention his name, my heart bursts with longing for him. Softly and tenderly I wait for him.”

Psalm 21:13 NLT “Rise up, O Lord, in all your power. With music and singing we celebrate your mighty acts.”

Romans 8:15-17 MSG “This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike ‘What’s next, Papa?’ God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children.”


During this season, the word *RISE* was placed on my heart. When that happens, I come across articles, podcasts, poems, quotes, songs about that specific word. Here is the definition of rise = move from a lower position to a higher one; come or go up; an instance of becoming higher.

One of the things I admire most about Jesus is He meets people right where they are. But He loves us too much to let us stay there. Sometimes we believe we need to get cleaned up to make ourselves more presentable before we could even think of thinking the name of Jesus. That just is NOT true. There is nothing you have done or said or thought or acted on or walked away from that could make Jesus love you any less than He does right here and now. Our Father God knows the hurt and sorrow you have buried deep inside. It breaks His heart too.

You are worthy of unconditional love and acceptance. Jesus wants to fill all of your empty spaces and broken pieces with something beautiful and everlasting. He longs for time with you and a personal, close relationship with YOU. Because Christ has risen, now we can rise. Even, and especially, with our broken pieces.

Declare today you will rise above the heaviness and darkness and brokenness. Let our loving Father have access to your heart. Let Him love you. Let your walls down. Ask Him to show you how He sees you. Just like a hot air balloon lifting up off the ground, imagine yourself rising above the darkness.


Dear Holy Father, thank you for meeting me right here. I give You the pieces of my brokenness that I have been holding on to. Thank you for loving me and caring for me like no human on earth can. Thank you for Your unconditional, eternal love. Lord, show me how to rise above it all in every area of my life to glorify and honor You. In Jesus’ name Amen.



Devotion from Karen Scott

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24


Psalms 118 is powerful.  It is praise to God and the strength he provides us.  It warns us not to trust in man, authorities or armies but to rely on God.  It celebrates God’s mercies and deliverance.  It joyously proclaims the entry of God’s people through the gates of the righteous and into the temple or courts of God and it is also considered by scholars to be Messianic.

Within context of Psalm 118, verse 24 is simply proclaiming a day for Thanksgiving.

However, for many of us, this verse is more profound.  It is used as a daily reminder that every day is a gift, one that the Lord has given uniquely to us.  It is a joyous and yet also prayerful proclamation of beauty, joy of living in the moment, encouragement in our walk with the Lord and an expression of thanks.


Lord, we thank you that along with the trials and tribulations of life you also provide us with the gifts of beauty, love, joy, hope and peace.  We thank you for this day and every day that you give us and that we would use them wisely in honor of you.

Devotion from Erin ODonnell

Turn! Turn! Turn!

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1


Our house sits under a landing pattern into Sanford’s airport. If I spend ten minutes outside, I’m pretty much guaranteed to hear a plane.  But today it’s strikingly quiet. I’ve been on my porch for 30 minutes. Not a plane in sight. The background roar of Allegiant overhead has been gone for a week, maybe longer.

What season is this, Lord?

The following seven verses of Ecclesiastes 3 go on to list 28 specific activities. To dance, to weep, to scatter, to love…you might recognize the list from the 1965 song “Turn! Turn! Turn!” by The Byrds.   I don’t see social distancing on the list, Lord, but clearly that is the season we are in. We – as in the entire planet! Thinking about it globally takes my breath away but it also brings me comfort.

I feel comfort because the shared experience bonds us. I feel comfort because this season of staying home leaves extra space and quiet for God to pour in.  Today He reminds me to be still and to remember that seasons change. This season will change.


You have our attention, Lord. You have cleared the man-made clutter of background noise and opened our ears to your whisper.     Thank you for the gift of this day and this unique season.  . Help us to actively listen as you speak to us through prayer, through nature and through the words of others. And use us, Lord, to spread your love and peace to those we interact with.  Amen.

Devotion from Carol Killingsworth

Faith Without Works Is Dead

James 2: 14-17 “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such faith save him?  Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead”


I have always loved these verses because to me, faith without action is not what Jesus taught us.  I once attended a church that acted as if faith was enough – no actions were required or needed: their prayers were enough.  Every time I attended, I felt as if something was missing.  I know we are saved by our faith in Jesus Christ, but I know He wants us to share our faith by ministering to others, as He did.

I am so excited to be a part of FUMC Sanford because I see the faith of others in their actions by visitations to shut ins, hospital visitations, Grace and Grits, the Quilt Ministry, the Picnic Project, the Bear ministry, the combination of services with The Children’s Home (not just sending them money) and ways I’m sure I’m not aware of. This Church is Faith in Action.


Prayer:  Dear Lord, thank you for a church that shows their faith through their work.  Make us aware of needs that we have not met.  Help each of us to do our part to live a life of service as Jesus did.  Bless the work being done in Your name.  In Jesus name we pray.  Amen