Friday, July 30, 2021

Growing and Dwelling in Christ

 


But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ (Ephesians 4:15)

 

Is it true?  Is it kind and loving?

 

Does what I am saying help or hinder?  Do my words wound another?  I am expecting everyone to be like me and do things my way?  Do I stomp on toes as a way to prove my point and then justify this saying, “That’s just the way it is” or “They deserved it.”?  Do see conversations like a balance sheet where someone wins and someone else loses? 

 

Do I get frustrated with others and struggle with how to love them?

 

Does my confidence bias blind me?  Does my complacency bias leave me stuck on the sidelines?  Does my complementary bias cause me to gravitate toward people like me?

 

Do I deflect and defend and dismiss others?

 

Do I falter and fall short of Paul’s description of a life built on the firm foundation of Christ, then quickly discount why this particular passage is no longer relevant for my life?  Do I struggle with how to speak the truth in love?

 

Yes, yes, and yes.

 

Prayer: God let these words and all the questions that have been stirred up in my soul this week continue to seek to grow toward the light of Your love and grace every day.  Amen. 


Thursday, July 29, 2021

Growing and Dwelling in Christ

 

To equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12)

 

I remember when I was a kid, I loved getting a new toy.  I would come home, rip open the packaging, toss that aside, and within seconds I would be running my new Matchbox car all over the couch and end tables and carpeting.  Perhaps we never outgrow the euphoria of buying something new.  Only the cost of what causes excitement increases with every birthday candle added to our cake. 

 

When Paul speaks about equipping God’s people for mission and ministry, I think about the question, “What new toys am I adding to the toy box of my soul?”  To be clear, this is often not tactile or tangible.  Often, I add new insights from a podcast that speaks to my soul.  Or I add a new thought from a book I am reading.  Or I add a new practice to my prayer time.  We used to speak of adding “tools to our toolbox”.  But that sounds way to serious and somber for me.  I want to add playful and prayerful parts to my life because I believe sharing God’s love is not a burden but an indescribable blessing.  I want to add toys to how love flows through me creatively and carefully and hope-filled-ly (not sure that is a word, but it should be). 

 

Paul reminds us that the church is called to be a community where we listen and learn from one another.  The pastor is not the only who can help you find new toys or tools or resources so you can let your light shine.  We all participate in this work faithfully. 

 

I think of our Oasis Center for Reflection and Renewal as a laboratory where we can practice and participate together.  From Greg leading drumming on Thursdays to our Artful Prayer group guiding us to let our inner artist loose to Sacred Conversations on Race to my Summer Bible Camp in August, these are opportunities to experience and grow and let God get a word in edgewise in how you might build your life in Christ. 

 

Where are you growing?  How can our church create spaces and places for each of us to both offer our understandings and encounter one another in life-giving ways?  May these questions be a prayer seeking God’s presence every day in the months to come.  Amen.


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Growing and Dwelling in Christ

 


But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. (Ephesians 4:7)

 

Do you remember this song, “This little light of mine”?  I recall singing that at the top of my lungs at summer camp and Vacation Bible School every year.  I love songs that have actions that go alongside and accompany.  I remember putting my index finger in the air to represent my “light” and waving my finger around like I just didn’t care. 

 

I wonder, where are you shining and sharing your light right now?  With your family?  With your friends?  With your neighbors?  With those in the wider community through volunteering?  You shine your light through giving your time, offering your talents, and sharing your treasure.

 

After you reflect on your own light, where does your light join with others?  In those summer camp experiences I learned that one flashlight was good, but several flashlights could help us see even better, especially when we all coordinated and collaborated on which direction we should shine our collective light!  

 

You are given grace freely and called to let God’s grace loose in your life in ways that bless others.  Each day is a new day to faithfully offer God’s presence in this world.  To be sure, we don’t always get right, but with God’s love all will be alright.  Prayerful ponder the gifts within you in these day and ways you can offer your full self to others.

 

Prayer: Let Your light spark within me, O God, a warmth that I am enlightened and empowered to share with others.  Amen.


Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Growing and Dwelling in Christ

 


Since the cliché says that, ‘Confession is good for the soul,’ I want to share that I am a bit obsessed with lists.  Okay.  I love lists.  More than the act of making a list, I love crossing things off a list.  There is the satisfying sound of the pen against the paper scratching off the task.  There is the sense of accomplishment that something that was before me, is now behind me.  I confess that when I do something that was NOT already on my list, I go back and add it just so that I can cross it off. 

 

I need help.

 

My soul finds a friend in Paul’s love of list.  Other examples are the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5 or the famous wedding passage, 1 Corinthians 13.  The list in Ephesians 4 has some of the same characteristics of others that Paul penned to different churches.  Paul lists six here, which for Paul is petty contained.

 

Humility

Gentleness

Patience

Bearing one another in love

Spirit given peace,

Staying open to the Spirit

 

I wonder if today you could spend time letting these words roam and rummage around your life.  You could start with a definition and example from your life for each.  For example, on Sunday, I offered a definition of humility (which is not my own) as, “not thinking less of yourself, just thinking of yourself less often.”  Then, I can examine my life to see when I might have done this.  Gentleness refers to both the tone and tenor of my voice, actions, and presence.  When this week have I been the proverbial bull in a china shop demanding my way or the highway that I have it all figured out and when have I NOT done that?  How am I being patient with myself and others, especially those who are not in the same place I am?  I sense that when I seek to embody humility, gentleness, and patience that love is a natural and normal next step.  However, I wonder if Paul’s list is a bit backwards, in that all of the first five traits could start with or stem from staying open to the Spirit?  Or maybe it is cyclical, that the more open I am to the Spirit, the more the Spirit has the first, middle, and last word in my life to be humble, gentle, patient, and fiercely loving? 

 

May these words do more than engage you intellectually, may they evoke and provoke a movement in/through your life this day.


Monday, July 26, 2021

Growing and Dwelling in Christ

 


I find Ephesians 4:1-16 to be one of the most powerful and profound passages in Scripture.  I invite you first to find your Bible and slowly read these words.  Let each word land in your heart, paying attention to what is evoked and provoked within you. There is so much packed into these sixteen verses.  First, there is Paul’s love of lists that as people of faith we are called to live with humility, gentleness, patience, bearing one another in love, and prayerfully tending/staying open to the Spirit. 

 

Whew.  There is enough there for the entire week. 

 

Paul goes on to talk about the gifts each of us have been given.  You are created in God’s image, empowered by God to share and shine your light.  You do this not as a single spark or as one flashlight in the world, but your light collaborates and cooperates and conspires with other’s lights in this world to be a beacon of God’s love.

 

Wow.  I feel the gears in my mind grinding in response.

 

Paul keeps on going, saying that the mission and ministry of the church is to ‘equip’ you to let your light shine.  The mission and ministry of the church is to find ways for all of us to work together with God’s guidance and holy promptings.  The mission and ministry of the church is to provide a safe space for exploration and experimentation.  The church is a laboratory where you can put on your white lab coat looking at your life and how our lives are being woven together.

 

Now I feel like I have just run several miles.  My mind is swirling, heart racing, soul spinning. 

 

And Paul isn’t finished yet!  He wraps all of this up with the phrase, “We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine…but speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into (Christ)”.  (Ephesians 14:14-15)

 

I feel like I am drinking from a firehose.  After this last year, I have felt tossed to and fro by everything that is going on around me and within me.  After this last year, there are so many voices clamoring for my allegiance.  After this last year, I wonder if I can speak the truth in love? These words are powerful and profound.  I wonder what is stirring and swirling within your soul in these words?  What insights or questions do you have?  As you sit with these words today, may God awaken your imagination to ways that you and I might embody these truths in such a time as this.

 

Prayer: God help open my mind, heart, and whole live to be in a dynamic dialogue with Paul, seeking to bring these words so close to my life to be embodied in what I do, say, and how I move about today.  Amen.


Friday, July 23, 2021

Abide

 


Whew, we made it through another week.  You sailed the ship of your life through moments of smooth waters and chaotically churning waves crashing down.  You interacted with people who made you laugh, some whose words hurt, some who frustrated or even awoke anger, and some whose presence demonstrated the “unconditional” truth of God’s love.  Every week is full, to overflowing, with God’s presence and promise.  So often, I miss God’s abiding in me because I am caught up in my agenda, to-do list, and plans.  I’m abiding/trusting in myself rather than God’s wisdom and presence.

Today, I invite you to breath.  Take in a deep gulp of breath that reaches and refreshes every part of your being.  Exhale out all that is unresolved sitting within you.  Breathe God’s presence.  Breathe out the unprocessed pain that sits within you no matter how much energy to try to take the sting out of that wound/hurt.  Breathe in God.  Breathe out the honest, heartfelt ways you have felt distant from the Divine.

So much goes on with the highways of our hearts, the encounters and experiences of life, we need space every day to remember who and whose we are.  Don’t rush on to the next task.  Rather reside here with God knowing that grace and love are abundantly and immeasurably right where you are in this moment. 

Prayer: Holy One continue to go before me, beside me, behind me, and within me, for I need Thee every hour and minute this week.  In the name of the One who promised his presence always, Jesus the Christ.  Amen. 


Thursday, July 22, 2021

Abiding in God and God in You

 

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

There is a fierce faithfulness to this final stanza.  I love the way this hymn unfolds.  The words above remind us that we find our strength in vulnerability.  Look back over this last week, especially the last two days.  The Morning Meditations for Tuesday and Wednesday had a vulnerability to them, even a weakness.  It is difficult for us to name that we need help.  We live in a culture that is addicted to confidence and certainty and puffing out its chest with pride. 

Yet this hymn says that the way to strength is not through flexing your muscle but admitting that we all stumble and bumble around.  Even as we call God, “Almighty,” we recognize that central to our theology is God’s willingness to face the cross in Christ – notice this in the third line of the stanza above.  That is a sacrificial way for the Sacred to be.  Move over, we proclaim, this is the image of the Divine we are created in, One willing to let love be at the center and core.  Our triumph is less about success and more about a way of encountered God in the storms of life.

When we abide in God, we face these moments of difficulty because God faced them in Christ.  When God abides in us, we find the courage to move through the pain knowing that God is not finished with us yet.

Because we are all a work in progress, we still have foes; ills still have weight; and tears can be a bitter as ever.  Abiding in God is not some guarantee of smooth sailing.  It is a reminder that God is there helping us in the storms of life.  What foes, ills, tears, and storms are stirring right now for you?  How might you be open, vulnerable, to God’s presence not with mind/might over matter; but with sensing God’s love abiding and inviting you to make your residence in God?

Prayer: God meet me this morning with the words of this hymn that I sometimes question and wonder about.  Reassure me that often it is only in looking back that I find Your amazing and abiding presence that I thought was absent in the moment.


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Abiding in God and God Abiding in You

 


Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day
Earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away
Change and decay in all around I see
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

Okay, I understand that this is not the most uplift verse.  You might be thinking, “Gee, thanks, Pastor Eeyore for highlighting this verse.”  You might even click over to YouTube to see if there is a funny cat video that would lift your spirits.  I get it.  Yet, I am taken by the fact that in a time when change is constant, when pain throbs, we can turn to One who is constantly seeking a loving and prayerful connection with us.  This is part of the invitation to abide in God and God to abide in us.  Other voices continually call us to abide in them.  Advertisement does this contending that if we buy their product, happiness will follow.  Political parties do this, if we vote for their candidate all will be well.  The church does this too by offering program after program.  There are many voices that clamor for your allegiance (and often your donations) promising you a sense of peace and belonging.  No wonder we struggle to hear God’s still speaking voice!

Yet, this isn’t to say your only option is to sell everything to go live off the grid somewhere.  It is more about being awake and aware to where your soul is residing.  You can do this by gently, thoughtfully, lovingly asking yourself, “why”?  Why are you buying that certain item?  Why are you posting that article or feeling anger when someone said something to you?  Is what you are doing or saying helping you abide in God and God abide in you?  I realize that continually asking these questions will cause us to slow down, because they are not quickly answered.

Life is constantly changing.  We are living in a time of pivoting and the ground beneath us is shifting.  We long to cling to a presence that has provided help for the helpless for centuries.  We long to find our home in the Holy. 

Prayer: God meet me where I am, shelter me from the storms of today, and surround me with a sacred sense that Your abiding and amazing grace will guide me.  Amen.


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Abiding in God

 



I need your presence every passing hour;

I need your grace to foil the tempter’s power. 

Give me your love my guide and stay to be. 

Through cloud and sunshine, O, abide with me.

This week we are abiding, finding our home and dwelling with the Divine in the hymn, Abide with Me.  The second verse echoes the first verse by calling us to notice and name how much we need God’s presence.  I find each line of the second stanza so profoundly powerful.

I need your presence every passing hour ~ yet, how do I practice staying awake and alert to God?  So often we can compartmentalize prayer as a moment, rather than a flow that we are caught up in to center our hearts.  To pray without ceasing, the Apostle Paul wrote, as an invitation – but Paul did not give us a five-step manual on how to do that.  One way to pray without ceasing is to simply repeat this line of the hymn.  Steve Cuss has a prayer practice before walking into a meeting ~ or signing on to a Zoom session ~ to remind himself that God is already at work in that room before he enters.  Perhaps that is another way we embody and embrace this line.

I need your grace to foil the tempter’s power ~ there are so many traps that trip us up in this world.  People’s hard hearts and hate hover in the air.  We promote cynicism and criticism as a higher form of intelligence.  We tend to minimize kindness and love as Pollyanna.  We want mercy for ourselves and justice for everyone else.  We fail to see the humanity in each other because we don’t really love ourselves ~ or sometimes we love ourselves too much.  The temptations to stray from God call out to us – which is why we need God’s presence every hour.

Give me your love my guide and stay to be ~ which makes so much sense given what we discussed above. 

Through cloud and sunshine, O, abide with me ~ is another beautiful line that you can repeat on the hour, every hour this day.

Prayer: Abiding and abundantly present God, be with me and open my life to notice Your presence in cloud and sunshine and every moment today.  Amen.


Monday, July 19, 2021

Abiding and Dwelling In Christ


 

Abide with me, fast falls the eventide.
The darkness deepens Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee.
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.

Yesterday, in worship, we centered our hearts on the ways we can dwell in Christ.  We prayerfully pondered ways to find our heart’s home in Christ’s presence.  Perhaps more than ever, we realize that the residence of our soul can roam around, get tossed to and fro, and we long for ways to find a ‘quiet center in the crowded lives we lead’.  This week, I draw your intention and attention toward the hymn, “Abide with me”.  Those three words are a prayer to God.  We long for God to come near to us, to sit beside us, and be with us. 

Yet, I realize that God is always abiding with us.  In our fast, frenzied pace of life, when things become blurry, we miss the Holy hovering in our midst.  Sometimes it is because our calendar is too full, or fear casts a shadow that blocks out God’s love, or because we have not practiced being in God’s presence ~ which is a spiritual muscle that needs to be tended and strengthened.

The first verse of Abide with Me testifies to the fact that when the night comes, and the stars are not as bright as the sun, our ability to notice God’s grace is more difficult.  The last year has held many nighttime moments.  The virus, racial reckoning, loneliness, feeling lackluster, the hyper-partisanship, pain physically or emotionally or spiritually.  All of this cause me to cry out for a strength that is not my own. 

Other helpers have failed, other comforts have fled.  There have been moments of feeling helpless and lost and wandering.  This first verse is the prayer of people who have had their hearts broken and known the pain of soul aching.  Let this first verse visit you as you open your life to God’s presence that is as close as your next breath. 

Prayer: God meet me in the moments of struggle and strife, when I feel stuck and stymied and need Your strength more than ever.  Amen. 


Friday, July 16, 2021

Morning Hymn Part 5

 


I pray this week has been a blessing as we have encountered, explored, and experienced the hymns of morning.  Today, I want to shift to a different hymn, Awake, Awake and Greet the New Morn.  While this is usually sung at Christmas, I find there to be a powerful and profound beauty in this hymn in all seasons.  First slowly read, savor the lyrics:

1).  Awake! Awake and greet the new morn, 
for angels herald its dawning.
sing out your joy, for Jesus is born,
behold! the Child of our longing.
Come as a baby weak and poor, 
to bring all hearts together,
to open wide the heavenly door,
and lives now inside us forever.

2).  To us, to all in sorrow and fear, 
Emmanuel comes a-singing,
whose humble song is quiet and near, 
yet fills the earth with its ringing.
Music to heal the broken soul 
and hymns of loving kindness,
the thunder of the anthems roll 
to shatter all hate and injustice.

3).  In deepest night Christ's coming shall be, 
when all the world is despairing,
as morning light so quiet and free, 
so warm and gentle and caring.
One without voice breaks forth in song, 
a lame one leaps in wonder,
the weak are raised above the strong, 
and weapons are broken asunder.

4).  Rejoice, rejoice, take heart in the night, 
though cold the winter and cheerless,
the rising sun shall crown you with light,
be strong and loving and fearless;
Love be our song and love our prayer, 
and love, our endless story,
may God fill every day we share, 
and bring us at last into glory.

May the words above stir your soul.

May your life have found a melody in all the hymns of this week.

May you awake to this day aware of the One whose presence is our song and whose love is our prayer always inviting us into the endless, eternal story.  Amen.


Thursday, July 15, 2021

Morning Hymns Part 4


 

Today I share a beautiful Spiritual, My Lord What a Morning.  Please slowly read these words as a way to pray this morning:

Refrain:
My Lord, what a morning,
My Lord, what a morning,
Oh, my Lord, what a morning
When the stars begin to fall,
When the stars begin to fall.

1 You will hear the trumpet sound
To wake the nations underground,
Looking to my God’s right hand
When the stars begin to fall. [Refrain]

2 You will hear the sinner cry
To wake the nations underground,
Looking to my God’s right hand
When the stars begin to fall. [Refrain]

3 You will hear the Christian shout
To wake the nations underground,
Looking to my God’s right hand
When the stars begin to fall. [Refrain]

I hear this Spiritual as a prayer of wonder and awe.  My Lord what a morning, that there is so much mystery and beautiful and grace.  I also hear this Spiritual with some exhaustion, where the emphasis can be almost sung exasperated, “My lord, what a morning.”  As in, what else can go south this week?  Which is the question no one ever wants an answer to.  Perhaps for you so far this week there have been moments of wonder and wandering; moments of elations and exasperation; moments of praise and pain.  There is space in this beautiful Spiritual this morning for all of you to find room to roam.

Read again with your heart wide open to God’s grace meeting you where you are and where God’s will might move you to go today. Please pray with me:

God who pauses and sits with me; who knows me fully; who loves me unconditionally and unceasingly, I offer all that is within me to You right now.  I pray You will meet me with a joy to feel fully alive; You will grant me strength for the struggles and storms; and that You will be there in the ordinariness of making lunch and going to the grocery store that is also on my “to-do” list.  God of this week, God of this day, God of every minute, continue to keep me open to You this morning.  Amen.


Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Morning Hymns Part 3

 


Listen to this version of Morning Has Broken as a doorway to prayer today: (Note this is instrumental, so feel free to sing out!)

Halfway through the week ~ Woohoo.  Look back at the last two days, what have you already experienced this week?  What has been the best moment so far? (Besides this devotional).  What has been difficult or troubling?  Where has ordinary beauty met you unaware? 

Our morning hymn today is Morning Has Broken.  I want to draw us to the third stanza:

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day.

In the last stanza, I have always wondered if the author was trying to say that God is re-creating – as in making new or continuing creation.  Or is the author saying God is recreating – as in relaxing, resting, playing, having fun, doing something so enjoyable?  Or is it both?

What are your thoughts?  Is today a new creation?  Is there something relaxing, fun, playful you could do?  How might moments today be both?  I know when I play, laugh, enjoy life; I am filled afresh with life.

Continue to pray with me:

God of this moment, re-create me with a love, grace, peace, possibility and promise I need every day and every hour.  Help me recreate a way of letting loose joy in this world.  Strengthen me to be open to Your will as what moves and motivates all I say and do.  I know I will stumble and be stubborn and stuck with my own agenda rather than Yours.  But I trust in Your power to break through the spaces between my certainty with Your creative presence.  Thank you for moments already this week that have filled my soul.  Thank you for strength to face the challenges.  Thank you for this day that has broken open already with Your awaiting arms to enfold and hold us all.  Halelu, Halelu, Hallelujah!  Amen.


Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Morning Hymns Part 2

 


Tuesdays are not always the easiest day of the week in my book. The enthusiasm or the “new car smell” of this week has worn off. Tuesday feels betwixt and between. I have not yet reached the halfway point. There are sometimes unresolved issues from Monday that crowd into Tuesday. Tuesday can sometimes feel like Sisyphean rolling a boulder up a hill repeatedly for eternity.
So, I turn to the hymn this day, “When Morning Gilds the Skies.” On the surface, the title sounds so pleasant and pleasing. Ah, what a beautiful day. But lean in and listen to the first verse:
When morning gilds the skies,
My heart awaking cries,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Alike at work and prayer
To Jesus I repair;
May Jesus Christ be praised!
What sticks and stands out to me are the words: “Cries,” at the end of the second line and “Repair” at the end of the fifth line. I wonder what cries out within you? I wonder want needs to be repaired in your life after yesterday? What words leap and land in your heart and soul this morning from the verse above?
Let us continue to be in the spirit of prayer today:
God of this day I pray for You to be in all that is unresolved and unsettled. Help me released to You. God who is with us in the messy middle of moments when we are unsure of where to go and what to do. God who is with us in the courage to take the next step, even when it is sideways or backways or no-way, be with us this day in all-ways. Meet us in the joys of this day. In a cup of coffee, tea, or water that refreshes our dry mouths like Your love refreshes our souls. In conversations that awaken new ideas, especially ones that challenge our confirmation biases, stretching us toward Your wisdom which is always beyond us. In quiet times when our soul can catch up with us. Meet us this Tuesdays in all that awaits us helping us remember You are with us. Amen.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Woke Up This Morning

 


This week, I want to invite us to lean in and listen to the prayerful words of hymns that are meant to be sung in the morning.  And we start with one of my favorites, “I Woke Up this Morning with My Mind.”

Here is the first verse and there is a wonderful video version above.

I woke up this morning with my mind stayed on Jesus
I woke up this morning with my mind stayed on Jesus
I woke up this morning with my mind stayed on Jesus
Hallelu
hallelu
Hallelujah.

What is on your mind this morning?

Do you feel centered in a calm grace of God or does life feel chaotic?

Does your mind race and run with an endless list of “to-dos” or perhaps your day is too wide open with too much free time?

After noticing, naming what is in your mind, what is in your heart?  Name and notice your prayer concerns/celebrations.  What is in your soul?  How are you and God doing right now? 

After surveying what is within you, please join me in a Prayer for Monday Morning:

God of every moment and each day, we enter another week.  As the hours unfold beckoning us to enter fully in ~ to explore, experience, and encounter the unknownness that awaits us.  Some praying these words on this Monday are full of enthusiasm.  There are celebrations of seeing family after being isolated this last year, birthdays, anniversaries, weeks at summer camp for children making new friends, and vacations to relax and renew.  Others woke up this morning with their hearts breaking and souls aching.  There are concerns that complicate our lives.  Those awaiting surgery, family members on hospice, financial hardships, grief, and pain that refuses to be processed. 

We pause on this Monday to survey the week before us. 

The events we know on our calendar.

The experiences we have no idea will happen on Wednesday or Friday.

All that is right now and might be in the hours to come.

Mondays can sometimes feel manic or make us feel like the cartoon character Garfield just wanting to pull the covers over our heads to hide.

Help us not just listen to the prayerful words of waking up with our minds on Jesus, but to stay on Jesus all this week.  To stay grounded and guided by the One we follow and the One who shows us the way to You, O God.   Take our lives and let them be blessed by Your presence.  Take this moment and this day and let it be centered in Your unconditional and unceasing love that leads us on and helps us stand.  Hallelu.  Hallelu.  Hallelujah!  Amen.


Friday, July 9, 2021

Prayers for the Second Part of 2021

 


Final prompt for the week and this one may take you a bit longer.  I want to know your prayer for the second part of 2021.  Push pause here.  You began 2021 with prayers.  Perhaps for the vaccine and for an end to isolation.  You began this year with hopes and good intentions.  At the halfway point, given what you know now, what is your prayer for the days to come?  

I realize that it is hard to know what is around the corner.  That we continue to feel like we are constantly pivoting.  I often say to people, “Three days is firm (I have a good sense of what I am doing this weekend).  Three weeks is fuzzy (I have some glimpses or guesses about the end of July).  Three months is fiction (I have no idea what October will look like).  Yet, I have this moment, this day.  Here is my prayer for the last half of this year:

To be open to God’s holy prompting every day, to make laughter a prayer, to serve with my whole heart, and to focus first on the people I love.

Now, it is your turn.  This is NOT a force share moment.  If you prefer not to post today, I understand.  I would welcome an email from you with your prayer so that I might pray for you.  Also, I invite you to tune in on Sunday to see how this invitation is woven into worship.  

Prayer: God who is with us and for us; whose grace is endless and eternal in the now of this moment, embrace us with love and grant us wisdom/courage/Your presence for the living of this hour and every hour.  Amen.  And Amen.   


Thursday, July 8, 2021

And the award for favorite movie goes too...

 


Today’s prompt for our comment conversation and community is to name a recent (which you can define in any way you would like) favorite television show or movie.

One great movie I recently saw is Pixar’s Soul.  It is about a jazz musician whose soul has an out-of-body experience.  I should say that it is a cartoon.  But like most Pixar movies there is more than enough wisdom for adults and helps us let loose our inner-child.  I don’t want to say too much so as to ruin the creative plot points.  One of my favorite quotes comes from the movie’s main character Joe who says, “Life is full of possibilities, you just need to know where to look.”  If you watch the movie you will discover how Joe, like many of us, struggles to find where to look to find life/purpose/hope.  The movie is streaming on Disney Plus, but hopefully you can find a way to watch it ~ well worth your time!

Now it is your turn.  Post in the comments a show or a movie that stirred something within you.  This is another wonderful opportunity for us to add to our “to watch” list.  As before, bonus points, if you share a bit of why the show or movie had meaningful for you.  I can’t wait both to see and then schedule to watch some of what you are finding helpful in these summer days.  

Prayer: God, You move in many ways and Your voice can be found in creativity in our living rooms.  Bless what we watch and how these moments have a power to shape us.  Amen. 


Wednesday, July 7, 2021

So Many Books...So Little Time

 


Thank you to everyone for your wonderful comments yesterday!!  Today’s prompt for our connecting and conversation is your favorite book you have read this last year or inspirational podcast or website.  Or you can also share all three.

Inspirational podcast is a toss-up between Rob Bell and Jon Acuff.  Both make me laugh and remind me of the joy in life.  There are lots of good books.  Currently, I am enjoying Louise Penny’s mysteries as a way to get lost in a good story.  Finally, TED talks are always a good website to visit for inspiration and motivation.

Now it is your turn.  Post in the comments a place where you find wisdom and light that guides you to feel fully alive.  Bonus points if you share a bit of why you find the book or podcast meaningful.  I can’t wait to both see and learn more about what is singing to your heart in these days.

Prayer: God, thank you, for a vast variety of voices that help remind us of grace, goodness, and Your love.  Amen.


Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Then Sings My Soul!!


 

We made it to July!  It is a new month, and we are halfway through 2021.  The first full week of a month is an opportunity to pause, to breathe, to reflect, and to share.  This week I want to emphasize the “social” part of social media, by inviting conversation and connection.  A few reminders about commenting:

1.      Be kind and loving.  This is a chance to share and practice caring for each other.

2.      Receive each other’s responses with openness and curiosity.

3.      Honor the beautiful diversity that we do not all need to agree, but we can all listen and learn from each other.

My prompt for conversation today is your favorite pick-me-up song.  On those days when your heart is heavy or soul is sagging, is there a song you can play that will help lift your spirits?  One that you cannot help but sing and even dance along to.  One that perhaps you play each Monday as a prayer practice to start your week.  I know that you are thinking, “Wes, I have at least ten, if not twenty, right now all clamoring, ‘Pick me! Pick me!’.”  I appreciate you have a whole soundtrack, and this conversation could and might go on for days, which is great.

I, too, have many songs that lift my soul, but one of my favorites is, “This is Me” from the Greatest Showman soundtrack.  First, I think this is good theology in proclaiming that each person is created in God’s image.  Second, the melody is catchy.  Third, the words are like an anthem to let my light shine and brings a smile to my face.

Above is a version of the song to listen to. Now it is your turn.  Post in the comments a favorite pick me up song you play.  This is a wonderful opportunity for each of us to go and listen to each other.  Bonus points if you share a bit about why this song lifts your spirit.  I can’t wait to both see and listen to your pick-me-up-song!

Prayer: God who sings and conducts creation into being, help us find You in each other’s comments.  Amen.


God's Calling - We don't have it all figured out

  A few weeks ago, I offered the analogy of the Slinky as a serendipitous example of the ways calling can go off course and still end up in ...