Sunday - "Turning Point"
Good morning brothers and sisters,
As the world turns (one of my mom’s favorite soaps)… As the world turns the season is turning as well. Springtime is all around us. Seeds beneath the cold ground are swelling, ready to sprout something new. The sun peeks through every once in awhile to remind us that the air will be warm again and we really will put our winter coats away. The cardinal in our backyard has begun chirping his morning song just as the eastern sky turns from deep purple to burnt orange. Spring is all around us. The season is turning.
This Sunday we will read two passages from the New Testament that signal a turning, a changing, in our understanding of God. (Mark 8: 31-38 and Romans 4: 13-25). Jesus and Paul take us deep into the mysterious ways of God…and encourage us to be people of faith - even though things are not the way they used to be!
The music is uplifting, the fellowship is warm, the sanctuary beckons us into sacred silence and reverent worship. See you Sunday! Adult Sunday School at 9:45 a.m. in the lounge, worship at 11:00.
My Most Treasured Happiness
A lot of changes are required within me
Before I count you as my Most Treasured Happiness:
Unclasping my grip on what is unnecessary,
Releasing my aimless desire for the impossible,
Ceasing to clutch at things feeding my ego,
Forgiving long-held grudges,
Turning from cultural notions of what satisfies.
All this, and much more, has to go on its way.
Only then will I realize who I have in you,
the source of what brings me true satisfaction.
Now is the Time to Worship
It has been a rough, heart-breaking week for the United States. We are hurting, there is no denying it. Yet, as Christians, we are people of faith. We are blessed by the brothers and sisters in our past who have shown us the way; the way of faith instead of despair. I hear them speaking to us now. They are shouting into our darkness and they are saying – “Thanks be to God, there is healing and hope!” And they are not referring to “thoughts and prayers.” Thoughts and prayers become mere, meaningless prattle compared to the compassionate peacemaking and brave reconciling Christians are called to do.
This Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m., I hope you will worship with this congregation, the Praise Ensemble, and me in our sanctuary. Let us sing thought-provoking, heart-mending, uplifting songs after a shatteringly painful week. Let us walk with Jesus into the wilderness to be tested by evil. Let us remember that the wilderness is not only a dry and dusty land somewhere in Palestine…it is the deafening, frantic, awesomely rich, spiritually bereft America in the year of our Lord 2018. Like our brother Jesus, we are tempted by evil. Like our brother, we will not defeated. His light, his God, the light we trust shines in the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it. Come - worship with us.
And there is more, come to the church lounge at 9:45 a.m. this Sunday where a group of us are reading The Journey to Jerusalem. A Story of Jesus’ Last Days. What a fascinating journey it is. We are just getting started – hop on board!
Good afternoon –
Our spiritual walk begins today. That is what Lent has come to mean to me. We Christians take an annual spiritual pilgrimage through our often frantic, confused, confusing world toward new, eternal life in the Risen One – Jesus Christ. The walk from Ash Wednesday to Easter. I hope you can take - even just a few minutes - every day this Lenten season 2018 to become aware of how transforming this pilgrimage can be.
Risen Lord, come stand among us,
Awaken us to your presence,
Open us to the gate of glory,
Show us the path of life,
Help us to know you are with us now and always.
ASH WEDNESDAY worship tonight at 7:00 p.m. in the lounge. There is room for you.
Good evening everyone,
A prayer at day’s end, the evening before we celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.
Eternal God, maker of the skies above,
lowly Christ, born amidst the growing earth,
Spirit of life, wind over the flowing waters,
in earth and sky, you are there.
O hidden mystery, sun behind all suns,
soul behind all souls,
in everything we touch, in everyone we meet,
your presence is around us, and we give you thanks.
Not an easy peace,
not an insignificant peace,
not a halfhearted peace,
but the peace of God in Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Have a good night’s rest, see you in the morning.
(the above prayer can is from a worship liturgy which can be found at - http://criyellowhouse.com/communion/)
Lifting Your Spirits
Ahhh. Here we are. Late afternoon again. For years I have known that these are the hours when my mind and body shift down to low gear. Energy feels depleted. I am more easily distracted and confused. Anyone else? These words from Jesus Calling also help; they speak truth and grace to me. “I am above all things: your problems, your pain, and the swirling events in this ever-changing world….I know your weakness and I meet you in that very place. Beautiful! Exactly what I need to remember.
Save your servant who trusts in you!
O Lord, I lift up my soul.
For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You. (Psalm 86)
Have a blessed and restful evening.
In the love of the Father,
In the light of Christ,
In the leading of the Spirit,
We place ourselves today….
Blessed are you, Creator and giver of peace.
Peace be upon us,
Peace be upon this place,
Peace be upon this day,
The deep, deep peace of God
Which the world cannot give.
Be upon us and remain with us always.
(Hey everybody – be safe out there! Take life slowly today.)
This morning I read this verse from a book of sacred Jewish writing: If you spit in the air, it will fall on your face. (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:21) Not all truths come wrapped in religious language. Yet this thought is part of their holy writings. Hmm? I take it to mean that our actions have consequences that are unavoidable. If my son does not do his homework, the tests will be really, really difficult. If I don’t service the family vehicle, it will fail me some day, probably in the middle of an intersection or in heavy traffic.
The simplicity of this little proverb applies to our spiritual lives as well. If we refuse to forgive and, instead, cling to our grudges, our soul becomes heavy, small, and dark. If we do not spend time in prayer and spiritual reading, we will lose contact with the ever-present holy mystery of the God in whom we are immersed.
Take five minutes today. Sit, reflect and pray over a few words from a spiritual writing, perhaps these will do? Your spirit will find peace and reassurance.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.” (Psalm 23: 1-3)
“I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in Me, and I in them, bear much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
God bless you,
“I like you just the way you are.” Those words spoken by one of our most effective evangelists, Mr. Fred Rogers, cause a momentary wave of relief?...gratitude?...peace? all of the above? to roll through my soul. Are the words too simplistic? I think not. We can waste far too much time and energy striving for, working to be worthy of God’s love. No effort on our part is needed! Do we strive to receive the bright beams of the sun? Do we work to be worthy of the refreshing fall of a gentle rain? Of course not. We can only receive these gifts of creation. So it is with the love of God. All we need do is receive it. Thrive in it. Rejoice and be glad in it! Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Grace and peace to you,
I was out of town last week, thus I missed sending epiphany thoughts to you. And, to be sure, if you wish to stop receiving these reflections - not a problem. My feelings will not be hurt. Please let me know. OK?