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Morning Meditation

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As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3The world around us can often define and determine the world within us.The people and places which we encounter and experience so often leaves a lasting and lingering impression upon our minds, hearts and souls.But there are some moments we would prefer to not allow to live rent free in our hearts.There are some words we would prefer to not leave well-worn ruts in my mental file cabinet.This pandemic has caused a shift in the ways we structure our lives.Masks, washing hands relentlessly, heighted awareness how close I am standing, and a low-grade anxiety that is ready in a moment’s notice sound like the robot in the tv show, Lost in Space, “Danger, Wes Bixby, danger!”How does what is happening around effect what is ha…

Wednesday Meditation

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“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you.”  Isaiah 43:1b-3, 4aHere we are trying to surf the world as we encounter and experience the reality around us...as well as what is within us. Here we are trying to stay afloat amid the waves that come crashing down. Here we are trying to navigate our boat through the waters of 2020.I wonder if part of what Isaiah was doing here was a riff on the resilience of faithfulness needed for daily living. Isaiah ministered to people in exile. People who had been carted and carried away from their homes in Jerusalem to live under the watchful eye of the Babylonian empir…

Morning Meditation

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“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you.”  Isaiah 43:1b-3, 4aDid your parents ever tell you the story of how they chose your name?  Perhaps your name goes back generations, so you are connected to a great, great, great grandparent.  Perhaps your name comes from a special relationship with a family friend.  When we were selecting names for our children, both times we settled on the middle name first.  Both our children’s middle names have a connection to a family member, we are saying to our children, “There is an important connection here.”  We then had to find a first name that matched and could avo…

Friday Meditation

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One of the places I feel most alive is wandering out in creation with a camera in my hand.  To be sure, I am no Ansel Adams.  I am sure that no one years from now will pay…well…anything for one of my photographs.  But I don’t practice spiritual photography for fame or fortune, I practice this way of praying because the action feeds and fuels my soul.  I practice photography because it helps me pay attention.  I need to pay attention not only to what I am seeing, but often what I am hearing.  Sometimes it is a bird singing that I hear first before seeing the colorful wings.  Sometimes it is the rustling of limbs that I hear before I see the squirrels playfully chasing.  Sometimes I smell a flower before I see the brilliant, bold color.  I invite you to look at the photo above.  What do you see?  Come closer and step into the photo, stand in the middle of it.  What do you hear?  What might you smell?  Maybe you picked up on the rush of the water over the rocks.  Or saw the brilliant and…

Wednesday Meditation

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Today is my nineteenth anniversary of ordination.  On September 9, 2001, at Urbandale UCC, I covenanted with God to serve the church and share my light.  I have preached almost a thousand sermons (many of which I don’t really remember); presided at funerals that broke my heart and weddings that brought me joy.  I’ve held babies in my arms to baptize and even one went down to a river in New Hampshire to perform a full immersion baptism.  There are moments that stand and stick out in my memories.  I remember the handbell choir playing Silent Night every Christmas Eve at my first church; tearing out 1960s gold carpeting in the sanctuary of the second church (God knows what kind of dust was hiding there!); and having holy/hard conversations at our church about the problems that challenge us today.  I also hold onto the ways people’s love here at our church makes a difference.  I treasure the ways we laugh at church meetings and try to listen with love to one another.  Nineteen years ago, …

Monday Meditation

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Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent.  Parker PalmerMy very first job was working in the dish room at a local restaurant.  It was not exactly a glamorous or glitzy position.  I was elbow deep in warm soapy water trying to scrub off bits of food that had been baked on so long it clung to pan like concrete.  Stacks of plates congregated stuck together and cups with bits of leftover coffee (hopefully you are not reading this during breakfast).  It was hard work and I went home exhausted, my fingers wrinkly like a prune after spending hours in water, and smelling a bit like Salisbury steak.  Good times.  I forget how much I was paid, but I remember feeling like I earned every penny.  On this Labor Day, I invite you to reflect on your first job.  What did that job teach you?  …

Prayer Friday

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This week full of moments...many of which will not be forever stuck in our memories.This week full of experiences and encounters...many of which will soon be forgotten.But for right now, they are accessible and available...right on the tip of our tongue.Hold the moments of good ~ the laughter, the connections with friends, the music that stirred your heart, the book that gave you insight, the peace of sitting-breathing-being.  Name the good right now aloud to your computer screen.Hold the moments of brokenness ~ the words you wished you had not said, the confusion that causes unrest within you, the times you'd like a rewind button to go back to try again, hold lightly for the sharp shards of this glass can cut you if you are not careful. Name the bad and ugly right now aloud to your computer screen.Hold your life in prayer feeling God's grace holding all you have said and left unsaid.Our lives, ourselves, are a mystery that is unfolding.Our lives, our relationships, are evolvi…