OO n Tuesday, October 13, 2020, the morning devotion for 2021 was launched at the South American headquarters of the Adventist Church, in Brasilia, Brazil. The book with 365 stories, one for each day of the year, was written by one of the vice presidents of the Church in South America, Pastor Bruno Raso, who this year completes 43 years of service to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
The theme based on the life of the apostle Paul challenges readers to have the passion of Paul in his communion with Christ, his relationship with the community, and his mission with the church.
The South American Adventist News Agency (ASN) spoke with Pastor Raso about the morning devotion for the coming year.
How did the idea of writing the morning devotion of 2021 come about? How long did it take?
Pastor Gabriel Cesano, from the Asociación Casa Editora Sudamericana (ACES), invited me to write, and Pastor Erton Köhler, president of the Church in South America, supported the idea. And, when I was thinking about the issue, I promptly went to Paul, because Paul always challenged me, always inspired me, always moved mevby his dedication, his passion, and his commitment to Jesus, the church, and the mission.
So I started to analyze how we could move forward, and I finally concluded that I should concentrate on all of Paul's writings.
Paul wrote 14 epistles, totaling 100 chapters, and in Acts 9-28 we find the story of his conversion, travels, and mission. So I took the 20 chapters of the book of Acts plus the 100 chapters of the 14 epistles he wrote, and from there I went forward in the order that they are written in the Bible.
The earliest New Testament writings were by Paul. Matthew was not the first book to be written. So we had first Paul’s writings, his life, his work, his dedication, the doctrine of the church, the mission of the church. And then we worked, moving forward, concentrating a lot in the summer to do the work, during vacations.
On December 24, 2019, at 7:00 in the evening, I was still at the Publishing House working and, on January 1, 2020, at 6 in the morning, I was already awake, because I had my whole mind focused on Paul and his mission.
What are the lessons that have most marked your life as you studied the life of the Apostle Paul?
Paul’s passion and the title of the devotional have to do with that; Paul was rekindled by passion. Paul’s passion. Christ was everything to him and he was everything to Christ, a surrender without limit. Ellen White says (paraphrasing): “Paul's zeal knew no bounds. Resolute in purpose, quick in action, firm in the faith.” For me, living is Christ and dying is gain, I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And that passion of Paul for Christ, for the church, has captivated and motivated me.
What has been your experience writing meditations for 365 days a year?
We share many stories and experiences of our life in the ministry. That is why I am grateful to the Austral Union for the 31 years that we have worked in Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay (a former Adventist sub-headquarters made up of three countries at that time), but I am also grateful to the South American Division because it enriched our ministry. In all places one is receiving experiences, gaining experiences, and seeing the growth of the church, the passion of the members. God thus manifests himself with themes. God in his mercy gives you an idea, a concept, an illustration.
What do you expect readers to gain from these daily devotions?
May the Lord transform this reading into a blessing for those who read it. In other words, it is going to be essential that God transforms each devotional reading as it is read so that it can reach the hearts and minds of all, and mobilize the church to be closer to Jesus, closer to the fulfillment of the mission and more near his return.
The theme is based on communion, relationship, and mission, which is the emphasis of the Adventist Church. The apostle Paul constantly emphasizes his relationship with God, his communion with God, his relationship with the church, and the presence of the church in the community. Hopefully, this material can help strengthen ties with the church and ties with the mission.
Any final words for future readers?
The 28th chapter of Acts for me is not finished and the 11th chapter of Hebrews is not finished either, because there is the list of the heroes of faith; 16 names appear and then groups appear and at the end, it says: "so that they might not be perfected apart from us" (Hebrews 11:39). That is, I hope that by the grace of God we can finish Acts 29 and Hebrews chapter 11 and be like Paul, dedicated instruments, faithful instruments, missionary instruments so that Jesus comes soon.