Daily Devotion for July 17, 2020

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. (Matt 16:25)

My next-door neighbor grows milkweed in her yard. This means I also grow milkweed in my yard, even though it is not part of my landscaping plan. It is a fascinating plant. As a child I recall watching the pods form and grow and then burst open and offer seeds dressed as little white ballerinas to dance in the summer sky.

Common Milkweed Flower
(Photo:  Kate Croskery Jones)
I know that I should still love milkweed because its leaves are the exclusive food of monarch caterpillars. Monarchs only lay eggs in milkweed. This iconic butterfly is an important pollinator and hence important to our ecosystem. They make our world beautiful and help to put food in our bellies and in the bellies of many of God’s creatures. They could not do it without milkweed.

Weed is part of the name of the common name of this plant. It grows aggressively. Botanists say that the common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) needs good sunlight but it seems to grow well everywhere from my lawn to my shady hosta beds. The blooms remind me of depictions of the corona virus. The plant is also a reminder that God’s created order includes lifeforms outside of my preferences and not wholly convenient for me. 

As a follower of Jesus, I am aware that the needs of my neighbor and the common good should become my first preference and that what is most comfortable, convenient, or selfishly preferred must be put aside. I think about this when I look at the milkweed and when I don a mask to venture out into public. In matters large and small this is the way of Jesus. John Wesley stated it well in his Covenant Prayer.

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.