Joe Noonan suggested to the pastor of Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in San Antonio that a group of laymen be formed to write devotions to publish for members to use during the Season of Advent. He responded, “That is a good idea, why don’t you start such a group?” Thus, the Devotion Writers Group started. The first Advent devotion booklet was published in 1995. It barely made it to press in time for Advent. It contained some wonderful devotions, and some that were not so wonderful. As each year passed, the group learned. The devotions had not necessarily improved, but the writers had learned. New writers joined the group. Other writers were lost. Some writers could be counted on to write one or two devotions each year. Other writers would write 10 or more. Some writers were members of SHLC. Others had ties to SHLC but lived in Corpus Christi, the Houston suburbs, and even in both Dakotas.
Lenten devotion booklets were developed and published. Then the booklets were translated into Spanish. Each writer had an individual style. In the editing process an attempt was made to not lose that style, as the devotion was edited for length and clarity. An attempt was made to keep the devotions to one-half of a legal sheet of paper, but sometimes they were too good to consider shortening.
In time, Judy and Herb ended up heading the group. With the work being done in Haiti, Herb had to step back from writing devotions. Since no one wanted to take over his duties concerning the Devotion Writers’ Group at SHLC, the project was put on hold.
If time permits, PDF files of devotions will be added to this website. Here is an example of one of the devotions that was published.
I WANT TO HUG A HOBO
Matthew 25:37-40 [Jesus said,] “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” (NIV)
“I want to hug a hobo.” These were the shocking words my granddaughter used to see if there was anything which could get me to show some emotion. I disappointed her by simply inquiring, “Why?” “Because I never have, and I think it would be cool.” Over the next 15 to 20 miles as we drove through the Lower Sonoran Biotic Province, we discussed this ambition. On a number of occasions, she has volunteered in a soup kitchen with her parents and has met many homeless people, but it was always a “hands-off” kind of relationship. She indicated that her parents were not any more enthralled with the concept than I was.
A theme that was on the fringes of the conversation but was not expressed into words was “I love my fellow man – it’s people I cannot stand.” Or to express it another way, can we really show a person agape-type love from a distance? Jesus showed His love by coming down from Heaven to be born of Mary. He left His position of authority and His throne of glory to become a human man. He showed He loved His disciples by washing their feet. He set aside His power as God and endured hunger, pain, and humiliation. He showed His love for all of us by dying on the cross at Calvary. By His very personal sacrifice, He provided us an eternal home with Him in Heaven. My granddaughter reminded me that we should show God’s love to all of His children – to show the personal, hands-on, compassionate love that God in Christ showed to all of us. God helps us to love others with that kind of love.
Lord, help me to reach out to others and show my love for You in how I treat them. Amen.