Posts

Showing posts from November, 2020

Advent Week One: Hope

Image
  I invite you to light one single candle, a candle of Hope, as you read this meditation.   The days leading us to Christmas are not only about parties, Christmas cards, cookies, shopping, hustle and bustle; this is a sacred season for us to ground ourselves in the mystery and marvel of God coming to us in human flesh.  The theological word here is incarnation, which I believe is one of the most important words for faith.  God’s willingness, vulnerability, eagerness, prayerfulness, hope-filled-ness, unconditional love and unceasing grace enters this fragile/foible-filled vessel called, “human life”.   Just in case that doesn’t cause us to scratch and shake our heads (after all gods are supposed to be powerful and throw lightening bolts, right?  Gods usually do not come upon earth in a form where you are susceptible  to diseases in the body and dis-eases of the heart.  Gods do not come upon earth where they could be crucified – but I am getting ahead of myself here in the story). 

Thanksgiving Week Wrap Up

Image
Morning Meditation ~ “I have spent my life watching, not to see beyond the world, merely to see, great mystery, what is plainly before my eyes. I think the concept of transcendence is based on a misreading of creation. With all respect to heaven, the scene of the miracle is here, among us.” Marilyn Robinson We dove into this week with a prayer that we would describe and define the ways love walks into our lives every day. We sought to be a detective of our own life, searching for detail upon detail of the divine dancing in our midst. I pray the ordinary has become holy in some way this week.   I pray that your list of encounters/experiences with love points toward what Marilyn Robinson is writing about above. I pray that through your list of love you start to see the great mystery and know the sacred. That you might know, not in the way of being able to study it scientifically like a butterfly.   Know deep within yourself a truth that you don’t need to cling to, because t

Thanksgiving Day

Image
  We have been reflecting on love this week.   Love’s relative, gratitude, is good to get to know today.   I recently read this from the website Salt, “But there’s perhaps no better day than Thanksgiving to reflect on the astounding power of gratitude itself — and accordingly, to commit ourselves to cultivating it more intentionally in the coming year.  If we think of “gratitude” primarily as a kind of duty to discharge (Now remember to write that thank-you note!), we’re missing the boat entirely, effectively reducing one of life’s wonders to mere good manners. On the contrary, gratitude is vital force in the world, a profoundly dignifying act that builds relationships, communities, and healthy human hearts. The science on this subject is overwhelming: in study after study, gratitude has been shown to lead to stronger relationships, better sleep, lower blood pressure, fewer trips to the doctor, fewer depressive symptoms, more patience, and more perseverance, among other benefits…our

Thanksgiving Week 3

Image
  Morning Meditation ~ Love How is your list of ways you are encountering and experiencing God’s love going?  If you haven’t had time to reflect on God’s presence strangely warming your heart and whole life from yesterday, I encourage you to do that at some point, perhaps now. It’s okay…I’ll wait.  Take your time.  Remember, you are savoring these sacred encounters like a piece of pie where each and every bite you might detect a different spice.  Keep asking yourself, “Tell me more!”  Let the curiosity of your life run rampant.  These lists are a way of knowing, especially in the world today.  The point of the list isn’t that by the end you will have irrefutable proof of God’s existence.  The point is for you to know you better; the you that is still being crafted and created in God’s image each day.  There is a great line in the hymn, The Summons, “Will you love the you you hide if I but call your name?”  This is one way for us to live a response to that question.   When we explore

Thanksgiving Week 2

Image
  Morning Meditation ~ Love By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.   Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.   Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.   Yesterday we prayerfully pondered letting God’s love have the first, second, third, and last word in our lives.  To be caught up in a concert of love that can change everything.  Today, I want to encourage you to make a list of encounters and experiences with love.  Start with yesterday, where were concrete moments you can point to God’s presence in ways that warmed your heart, soul, mind, and whole life? ~ Perhaps it was a phone call you had with a friend.   ~ Meal with your spouse or family. ~ Something you read. Now, go deeper and be more specific about the sacred. ~ It was when your friend on the phone said that particular combination of words. ~ It was the laughter yo

Thanksgiving Week 1

Image
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.   Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.   Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. How do you know what you know?  That question has been around for centuries.  Perhaps in college you even had to take a class on theories of knowledge when you asked the question, “What is the foundation for facts?”  Such a question seems as important today as ever.  We swim in a sea of questioning the legitimacy of scientific reports or election results or everyone tossing and throwing around the word, “Fake news”. So, now you are thinking, “Thanks for that uplifting insight, Pastor Eeyore!” Or Not exactly the way to start Thanksgiving week!  Yet, when the writer 1 John says that we will, “know,” I wonder about that word in this world we inhabit.  How do we know what we know?  This question is one wort

Baptism take five

Image
  As you read the meditations this week, I invite you to have a bowl of water in front of you.   You may want to begin by pouring out the water, hearing it splash at the bottom of the bowl and even splatter onto the table.   Now, I invite you to wet your thumb and trace the outline of the cross on your forehead.   Remember you are created in God’s image.   As we wrap up and wind down this week of centering on baptism, I am wondering what is one truth you will carry with you?   Would you be willing to share in the comment section?   What was it like each morning to baptize yourself?   Did beginning the day in this way make a difference?   Were there moments when you were about to say something but the evaporated water on your forehead caused you to pause and prayerfully ponder another way to express what was in your heart?   Were there moments each morning when you looked back at the past day to see places where God’s love was let loose and times you held back? I ask all of this,

Baptism take four

Image
  As you read the meditations this week, I invite you to have a bowl of water in front of you.  You may want to begin by pouring out the water, hearing it splash at the bottom of the bowl and even splatter onto the table.  Now, I invite you to wet your thumb and trace the outline of the cross on your forehead.  Remember you are created in God’s image.   Now hear these words from Matthew: The moment Jesus came up out of the baptismal waters, the skies opened up and he saw God’s Spirit—it looked like a dove—descending and landing on him. And along with the Spirit, a voice: “This is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life.” Matthew 3:16-17, The Message I wonder how Jesus made sense of this holy moment?  Did he think he had lost it because he was hearing voices and seeing things?  Did he say, “Must be a bit of water in my ears and eyes, because this doesn’t make sense!”?  Did his heart feel strangely warm and his soul surge? How would you feel?  What would you think?   Be

Baptism take three

Image
  Morning Meditation ~ Baptism In addition to the bowl of water, I encourage you today to have a cup of coffee or tea or OJ or a favorite beverage ready as you read the following words from Joyce Rupp: “if I wait to be perfect before I love myself I will always be unsatisfied and ungrateful if I wait until all the flaws, chips, and cracks disappear I will be the cup that stands on the shelf and is never used” Baptism isn’t only external event, this sacrament (which means it is a tactile/tangible way of experiencing God’s grace) awakens an internal truth: you are a container of God’s love.  Just like the cup of coffee I hold in my hands right now, you are a vessel for God’s presence in the world today.  Suddenly I think, “ Wait !  Me ?  Hasn’t 2020 been hard enough?  Can I really do this?”  Perhaps you can hear why John protested baptizing Jesus in your own responses and reactions to letting the claim of baptism control the radio station of your life. Yet, as the psalmist s

Baptism take two

Image
  As you read the meditations this week, I invite you to have a bowl of water in front of you.  You may want to begin by pouring out the water, hearing it splash at the bottom of the bowl and even splatter onto the table.  Now, I invite you to wet your thumb and trace the outline of the cross on your forehead.  Remember you are created in God’s image.  Pay attention your thoughts.  What words would you use to describe this moment?  Words like, “peacefulness,” “love,” or “soaked/saturated in the Spirit”. When I think of baptism, in the back of my mind there is a melody that starts softly, tenderly.  Soon the words wash over me like I just dove into a pool of water: As I went down in the river to pray Studying about that good ol’ way And who shall wear the starry crown Good Lord, show me the way. O sisters, let’s go down Let’s go down, come on down O sisters, let’s go down Down in the river to pray It is that final line of the first stanza, “Good Lord, show me the way,” that catches me. 

Baptism take one

Image
  As you read the meditations this week, I invite you to have a bowl of water in front of you.   You may want to begin by pouring out the water, hearing it splash at the bottom of the bowl and even splatter onto the table.   You may want to dip the tips of your fingers into the bowl.   Pay attention to the sensations that are sent all the way from your fingertips to your brain. Do you feel warmth or coolness? What colors do you notice? Can you maybe even see your reflection in the water? Play in the water a bit, let your inner five-year-old-self loose with joy – especially because this year has not been easy. Now, I invite you to wet your thumb and trace the outline of the cross on your forehead.   Remember you are created in God’s image.   Remember God’s liberating love that seeks to let loose in your words/actions/presence.   Remember God’s grace that feeds us and forms us every day.   Remember, you are a beloved daughter and son of God. Breathe into that truth. Then re

Communion Again

Image
  I started the week with communion and want to end the week here.  Specifically, Jesus’ invitation that every time we take bread, break, and eat, we do so in remembrance of him.  This isn’t just confined to a sanctuary and communion.  The communion table connects and extends to your dining room table when you take bread into your hands and break it.  One of the blessings from digital worship is that you are living the priesthood of all believers.  You are blessing the bread and consecrating the cup.  Plus, the fact that your dining room table becomes an altar is an affirmation that I pray continues for years to come.  Given these truths – you are blessed by God and can celebrate communion any time you wish as well as your home is a sanctuary – means that today at breakfast, lunch, and dinner is a holy meal.   The image that comes to mind is when I am eating a bowl of soup, there is always just a bit at the bottom I cannot get.  So, I take a bite of roll to soak the last little bit of

Two Weeks Til Thanksgiving

Image
  Morning Meditation ~ Two weeks from today is Thanksgiving.  For me, it doesn’t quite feel right because I know that Thanksgiving this year will be unique.  I am wondering what sorts of plans you are making for that day?  I know I won’t be joining church members at a restaurant for plates full of turkey and pieces of pie.  It will be quieter and perhaps more somber given the state of the world with the pandemic.  Yet, I know that the first Thanksgiving perhaps wasn’t the feast we now associate with the day (I will say more on that in the sermon on November 22nd – which is a total shameless plug).  Yet, this year I am being invited to give thanks, not because I have to or because everyone else is, but because such an act is life giving.  For me, thanksgiving isn’t just a day, it is a state of being.  To be sure, it is a state of being that at times eludes and evades me, especially this year.  At moments giving thanks can sometimes feel a bit forced.  But when I begin to think about the

Veterans Day

Image
  Today, November 11 is Veterans Day but we originally called this, “Armistice Day.” On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month (i.e., November 11, 1918, exactly 102 today), the truce was declared that ended World War I, then known as “The Great War” and “the war to end all wars.” “Armistice” is from the Latin arma (“arms”) and sistere (“stand still”). Initially Congress said this this day, “should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations.”  What a powerful statement for this year.  Today, you can start with thanksgiving.  I give thanks for my dad who served in the Navy, my father-in-law who was also in that branch, for those who wore the uniforms of the Army/Air Force/Marines, for members in our church who worked at the Pentagon, those who left family to go to Iraq or Afghanistan, and those who are stationed around the world right now.  I give thanks that servi

Communion Take Two

Image
  Morning Meditation ~ During worship yesterday, we celebrated communion.  The word is derived from com- "with, together" and unus "oneness, union."  Another way to say this is that communion is playfully bringing together the words “common,” as in the ordinary/everyday bread from our cupboards and juice from our refrigerators, and the word, “unity”.  Communion gives us a vision of common unity.  Given that we are still in the throws of a contentious election, it can seem difficult to think about what can bring us together as people.   But, perhaps, one possible truth is going back to basics of what we do share – the needs for food, shelter, and love.  The human need for connection and care.  It is often noted that human beings, on a cellular level, are 99% the same.  Beneath the surface of skin color; language; places we call, “home,”; political understandings; where we find the holy; and all the other ways we categorize and compartmentalize each other; within us w

Prayer with Open Hymnals and Open Hearts

Image
  O God, I woke up this morning with my mind, stay on Jesus.  I woke up this morning knowing that I had to lean into Your everlasting arms.  I woke up this morning knowing full-well that I need Thee every hour.  I woke up this morning with the hymnal of my heart longing to be expressed in what I do and say and go about this day.   I pray the words this morning realizing that You are the God of all the nations, “This is my song, O God of all the nations, A song of peace for lands afar and mine. This is my home, the country where my heart is; Here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine; But other hearts in other lands are beating With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.”  Those words sing to my soul.  Those words call out to my heart to realize that so often my focus can be too narrow only on me.  I forget the pain of my brothers and sisters in other countries also struggling with coronavirus, economic hardship, polarization, and pain.  We are so caught up in our own narratives t

Prayer as We Wait

Image
  God, You know all about waiting.  Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years from the moment You promised them a child to Isaac (meaning, “laughter”) first cry.  Moses never set foot in the Promised Land after wandering for forty years, being the complaint department, and preaching countless sermons.  Isaiah and Jeremiah and Micah might never have known the ways their words would both inspire and challenge people of faith for centuries.  Even Jesus waiting thirty-some years from being born in a barn to the moment he waded in the water for baptism.  Be with us as we wait right now.  Remind us that there is holiness woven into every day if only we let Your grace and love get a word in edgewise.  Help us direct our energy, use our words, and be Your presence.  God, we need Your firm foundation of faithful living in these days.  As the hymn we sing proclaims, “Save us from weak resignation to the evils we deplore; let the gift of your salvation be our glory evermore. Grant us wisdom, grant us cou

Prayer on Election Eve

Image
  I invite you this morning to take a deep breath.  Breathe in so that the oxygen reaches your pinkie toe.  Exhale out the exhaustion we have all been carrying trying to keep on, keeping on.  Breathe in again the strength of the One who promises to always be present.  Exhale out the fear that has for far too long controlled the radio stations we listen to.  Breathe in an unceasing grace and unconditional love that we need every day.  Exhale the pain, trusting God to help us process all that is swirling in our minds, hearts, souls, lives, community, country, and world. Pray with me. God, You are our help in ages past.  You are our hope for years to come.  We know from the stories of our grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, the ones who would gather at family reunions with paper plates of potato salad and jello to swap stories about what it was like trying to live and raise families during the Depression, Dust Bowl, and World Wars.  We have heard stories about ducking under desks for fe