When I was an educator/pastor at the Nassau Presbyterian Church, the Adult Education Committee had the idea of creating a Lenten devotional, with daily entries written entirely by members and friends of the congregation. Guidelines for submission included a maximum word count, inclusion of a 2-3 sentence prayer and brief bio, and style suggestions such as preferred Bible versions for a brief selected quote and appropriately inclusive language for God and humanity. This is not a unique or even a new idea, but two features of it, and a Covid-19 time expansion that grew from the practice this spring, may be developments worth noting.
The first year, 46 days of devotions, based on each person’s choice of text from the daily lectionary, were printed in a small booklet, and reproduced in large print. The latter were in such high demand multiple additional copies were printed. Older adults were enthusiastic users!
In subsequent years, these additional access points have been added:
- Daily posts are sent by email (the first one automatically, subsequent ones to those who subscribe)
- All are made available on the church website
- All are posted in the early morning on Facebook
These two features have become very important to readers:
- The writer’s name and a short bio are attached to each devotion, primarily stating one’s involvement in the congregation
- Writer’s email addresses are provided so readers may write a note of appreciation or connection to the writer. Emails are listed in the print version only to protect privacy. Those using other formats may send an email forwarded by the church office.
In this spring of virtual worship and programming, connection is so important no one has wanted to stop receiving these after Easter, so the practice has been extended through the 50 days of Eastertide to Pentecost. No print version is available but all other ways of distributing the daily devotion continue. Volunteer writers are solicited and all submissions follow the usual guidelines and focus on a selected lectionary text for the day. (See below for an example of a recent Daily Devotional Post.)
Daily posts inspire faith and prayer, offer encouragement, and most important of all, create and nurture connection amongst the congregation, something worth valuing at all times, not just in this time.
Joyce MacKichan Walker, Retired Church Educator/Pastor, Princeton, New Jersey