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Showing posts from September, 2020

Morning Meditation

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Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.   If ever there was a verse of scripture that sings to my soul in such a time as this, it is the above words from Paul’s pen.  I feel tossed to and fro by the waves and winds of the world today.  I feel tugged and torn between wanting to help and wondering if I can really make a difference.  I feel moments of joy and times like I am falling flat on my face.  The crashing, shattering sound you hear is my soul each time I read the news or hear someone say something racist or homophobic or just plain hurtful/harmful to another person.  The crashing, shattering sound you hear is trying to go about this world spinning out of control with hurricane force winds, destruction like a wildfire, and leaving devastation behind. Perhaps you are thinking, “Well, thanks for that inspirational thought, Pastor E

Morning Meditation

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  So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. We need each other.   I know very few people who can make it on their own.   While we might idealize individualism, it is our relationships with others that help to give meaning to our lives.   When I hear this part of the passage to the Ephesians, I hear Paul reminding the church then and now that our connections to each other matter and make a difference.   I hear Paul challenging us to realize that not everyone will share the same gifts and not everyone will be faithful in the same way.   Our unity is not uniformity, it is found in the One who crafted/created/loved each of us into being.   The divine breath that fills us, the spirit that sustains/su

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 4:1-3 The 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 a

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, 4a Here 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 em

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, 4a Did 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

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

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 Palmer My 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, ar

Word Wednesday

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  Thru the trees The sunlight peeks through the branches of the trees falling across the rocky road I am traveling. Light and shadow mix, mingle together. This is life. Sometimes the road is steep, causing my feet to ache And mind to wonder if I can make it. Sometimes the potholes in the road cause me to stumble. Sometimes I twist an ankle on a rock I didn't see. I find the same is true when someone says words causing my soul to ache And I wonder if I can make it. The problems that I can't easily fix cause me to lose my footing...confidence. The pain of those I love dying, racism, polarization, pandemic, and persist problems twist my heart. Amid the rockiness of the road, the beauty of light still shines through. Moments of laughter. Conversations that matter. Soul stirring and causing goosebumps to race down my arm. Heart warming toward the light of God's love. The two mix and mingle together in the road of life. The invitation is to name and notice God's grace in both