Thursday, November 30, 2017

Praying

Jesus, 
who bade all who carry heavy burdens to come to you, refresh us with your presence and your power. Quiet our understandings and give ease to our hearts by bringing us close to things infinite and eternal. Open to us the mind of God that in his light we may see light. And crown your choice of us to be your servants by making us springs of strength and joy to all whom we serve. Amen.
~ Evelyn Underhill

Friday, November 24, 2017

Thankful for Family

Lord,
Today I played with my family.
That's nothing new. I try to often.
But sometimes my worries and stresses
preoccupy my mind,
keep me from being fully present,
distract me from what really matters.

Today we played hard.
Then while relaxing on the front porch
feeling my tired muscles and sore feet,
I felt something else too --
Calm,
Joy,
Peace.
Oh the worries still are not resolved.
The stresses still linger.
But they have taken a back seat to some thing else.
I know,
Gratitude.
Today I am grateful for my family.
Thank you, Lord,
for their daily gifts of grace.
Thank you for your graces given through them.
Amen.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Thanks be to God!

Dear praying ones,
It has been awhile since my last post.

Today I am grateful for your praying with me.
So today I pray a Thanksgiving prayer with you.


God,
Thank you for your blessings, for your presence, for your graces and mercies, which are new every morning.
You are a faithful God.
You are a committed God.
You are worthy of our worship and praise.

So today and every day we give you thanks. We offer you our very lives, our sacrifice of praise.

By the power of your Spirit, may our lives show our gratitude to you.

Amen.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Prayer after the Storm

Prayer after the Storm

The storm is passing over,
and yet there is devastation in its wake...
and in the wake
the waters surge
the power is out
branches from proud strong trees
are scattered...
for all those
still in harm's way,
we pray.
for all those
assessing loss,
we pray.
for all those
who have been rendered homeless,
or more homeless because of the storm
we pray.

we pray
for recovery, for hope, for help, for healing.

in awe
we pray,
amen.


~ written by Rev. Karla Miller, and posted on A Place for Prayer.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Lord, Send the Storm Away...

Lord Jesus,
you have calmed storms before
when you disciples cried out to you.
To the winds and the waves you said,
"Peace! Be Still!"
Your disciples are crying out now!

Lord Jesus,
you came to your disciples;
you walked to them on the waters
when the winds were strong and the seas were rough.
They were scared, but you were with them,
a source of strength and calm in the storm.
The winds are strong and the seas are rough now!

Lord Jesus,
I pray for those
who have endured
and are enduring the destructive power of the storms.

Lord Jesus,
forgive me for not praying harder sooner.
I admit my prayers are selfish
now that the storm will affect my home.
Lord, please don't hold that against me,
but rather transform my selfish concern
into compassion for others,
especially the vulnerable.

Lord Jesus,
I join you in rebuking the storm:
"Peace! Be still!"

Lord, calm the raging storm,
and give me the courage and resources
to help others find safety.
May I be a source of calm
in the midst of the storm.
Amen.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Prayer in the midst of Hurricane Harvey

God of our life, whose presence sustains us in every circumstance,

in storm and distress, we welcome the restoring power of your love and compassion. We open our hearts in sorrow, gratitude, and hope: that those who have been spared nature’s fury as well as those whose lives are changed forever by ravages of wind and water may find solace, sustenance, and strength in the days of recovery and rebuilding that come.

We are thankful for the generous grace of days of preparation; for the wise counsel of experts and the generous collaboration of so many communities, that in the face of the storm kept many out of harm’s way, and lessened the effects of wind and water on others. We pray for those yet in harm’s way; who wait in neighborhoods while the waters rise, who pray for the rains to cease. We pray for those huddled at home or among strangers while wind ravages, for those who have fled from home and wait and wonder. We ask for sustaining courage, for the kindness of strangers, for hope that does not disappoint.

We open ourselves to listen with compassion to the stories of those whom Hurricane Harvey has not spared: communities deeply affected, whose livelihood, homes and stability have been destroyed. We pray in grief, honoring the lives, shattered and the livelihoods, homes and businesses for whom recovery seems an insurmountable mountain. We lift our voices in sorrow and compassion for families who have lost loved ones, homes, or livelihood.

We ask for sustaining courage for those who are suffering; wisdom and diligence among agencies and individuals assessing damage and directing relief efforts; and for generosity to flow as powerfully as rivers and streams, as we, your people, respond to the deep human needs beginning to emerge in the wake of the storm.

In these days of relief, assessment and response, open our eyes, our hearts, and our hands to the needs of your children and the movements of your Spirit, who flows in us like the river whose streams makes glad the city of God, and the hearts of all who dwell in it, and in You.

In the name of Christ the Healer we pray, amen.


___________________
written by the Rev. Dr. Laurie Ann Kraus, director of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance




PDA has been in touch with the presbyteries in the path of Hurricane Harvey to offer assistance. We are standing by with resources and National Response Team members ready to deploy upon invitation and when it is safe to do so.

For those who wish to support PDA's emergency response and recovery efforts, gifts can be designated to DR000169-Harvey. Information on how to give can be found here.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Who then is this?

Mark 4:35-41
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Who then is this?
Lord,
who are you?
One who can sleep through the storms...
One who cares deeply...
One who commands the wind and the waves...
One who creates peace...
One who causes great awe and wonder...

Yes,
Lord Jesus,
you are all that and more.
You shatter the box
I have created for you.
You act beyond my imagining.
You show me
how powerful,
how transforming,
how saving,
compassion for others is.

By your Spirit,
embolden me
to embody your compassion for others
and in so doing
bring about peace and calm
in the lives of others
for your Glory!
Amen.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Storms

Mark 4:35-37
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped.
Lord,
the storms come.
Sometimes I can see them
building off in the distance --
great storm clouds reaching into the sky
with their menacing darkness.
In relationships,
sometimes I can predict
what will be said,
how the other will react,
& the hurt feelings all around.
The storms of life build,
and I can see it coming.

Sometimes the floodgates surprise me --
lightening flashes,
waters rise & overwhelm.
In life too,
the words said in anger.
The careless act.
The selfishness.
In a flash flooding and overwhelming torrent,
the storms of life come.

Lord,
thank you for
being with us
in the storms.
Amen.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Just as He Was

Mark 4:35-36
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. 
Lord,
Such an interesting detail.
"They took him... just as he was"
What does that mean?

They took you
without anything extra.
Without a bag, or a magic stick, or...

Just you as you are.

How do I take you?
With a grain of salt?
With my assumptions?
With my own agenda?
With my hopes & fears & expectations?

What would it be like to take you,
just as you are?

I think you would surprise me.
I think you would challenge my assumptions.
I think you would push my boundaries.
I think you would invite me to see
the world and the people around me with new eyes.
I think I would stand in awe and wonder of you.

Lord,
Come into my life today
just as you are.
Remove the scales, assumptions, & cultural layers from my eyes
so that I can see you
just as you are.
Amen.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Log Eye

Matthew 7:3-5
Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye?
You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.
Lord,
I love picture you draw for us here.

As the son of a microbiologist,
I imagine trying to look
through a microscope
to do microscopic eye surgery on someone
all the while having a HUGE 4x4 post of wood
protruding out of my own eye!

The hyperbole!
It is the thing of slapstick comedy!
A Charlie Chaplin skit for certain.

LOG EYE!

Oh, why do we not take the time?
to do the work of self discovery,
to do the work of self awareness.

Are we afraid of what we might find?

My own experience of self discovery
involves becoming aware of my limitations
and accepting them...
but it also includes accepting, embracing
and celebrating
my uniquely giftedness!!

Lord,
remove the LOG
that blinds me
from my flaws and my gifts
so that I can help others
see themselves clearly
as you see us.
Amen.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Do not judge

Matthew 7:1-2
Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.

"Don't be so judgmental"
it's a phrase often shouted,
often in anger,
and ironically, often in judgment of the other!

Lord,
some even say they are quoting you on this.
Do not judge,
so that you may not be judged.
I wrestle with what you mean here...
I wonder what you mean by "do not judge".

Judge must be different that Discern.
While I am certainly NOT
the jury or judge of another's worthiness, righteousness, etc
You spent time with sinners...
But you do call us to discern.
"You will know them by their fruits" you say.

So what's the difference
between judging and discerning.

Judging seems to suggest
that I think I am better, more worthy, more holy,
than another.
In so doing, I reveal the truth
that actually I am no better;
I am a sinner.

Discernment seems to suggest
a slow process, a wrestling, a listening,
trying to figure out what would be Christ's will.
Indeed seeking your face
in the midst of the situation or relationship.

Judging says,
"I'm right; you're wrong."
Discerning says,
"I'm not certain, but I think this the right; I could be wrong.
Help me understand your point of view."

Discernment seems to invite
conversation partners into the process
to figure what would be best.

Help me do the hard work of discernment.
Show me your way, your will forward.
To the glory of God.
Amen

Monday, July 10, 2017

Forty

Lordy, Lordy, look who's Forty!

Yes, Lord,
today is my Fortieth birthday.
Many times I see 40 celebrated
with black balloons.
Some say,
"It's all downhill from here.
Welcome to Mid-life."

Lord,
I have been reflecting
on turning 40.
I remember
there are a lot of 40s
in the Bible.
40 days and 40 nights
40 years

Some scholars say
the biblical use of 40
is a symbolic way to say,
"A long time".

As I reflect on these biblical 40s,
I notice significant things happen
after 40:
The rainbow after
40 days and 40 nights of flooding.
The gift of the 10 commandments after
40 days and 40 nights of Moses on Mt Sinai.
Entering the promised Land after
40 years of wondering on the wilderness.
David defeated Goliath after
40 days of Goliath taunting Saul’s army.
Elijah heard the still small voice of  God after
40 days and 40 nights of fleeing Jezabel.
Lord Jesus, Your conquering of temptation and starting your ministry after
40 days and 40 nights of fasting.

Lord,
I wonder:
what significant things
will happen in my life and ministry
after 40?
I am excited
to see you at work
in my 40s.

Amen.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Elijah & The Silence

I Kings 19:11-13

[God] said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”


Lord,
There are some in our world
creating earthquakes,
creating fires,
trying to distract us;
trying to take power.

But
You, O Lord,
are NOT in the earthquake.
You, O Lord,
are NOT in the fire.
You, O Lord,
are NOT in our attempts 
to grab power,
to make ourselves important,
to force our views on others.

No,
O Lord,
You are not there.

You are present
in the silence,
in the sheer silence,
in the voices long silenced.

Give us ears
to hear beyond
beyond the noise,
beyond the cacoffiny of sounds,
beyond all that competes for our attention,
beyond our self-promoting...

Give us ears
to hear the silence,
to listen deeply to the quiet,
to know You,
the breath beneath or breathing.

May You
be the deafening silence
we learn to listen to and obey.

Amen.






Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Celtic Blessing

May the Christ who walks on wounded feet
walk with you on the road.
May the Christ who serves with wounded hands
stretch out your hands to serve.
May the Christ who loves with a wounded heart
open your hearts to love.
May you see the face of Christ in everyone you meet,
and may everyone you meet see the face of Christ in you. Amen.

____
The above prayer is a Celtic Blessing.

Monday, June 26, 2017

We are not afraid!

We are not afraid today;
God will see us through.

That's what we sang
today in choir rehearsal.
I am struck by the certainty,
the confidence,
the boldness,
the courage.

The words were not
"We will not be afraid."
suggesting some future hope of no more fear, but being fearful now is somehow expected.

No, this was a clear direct statement.
"We are not afraid!"
Not now, not ever.

"Why?" you ask.
God will see us through.
Plain.
Clear.
Direct.

We are NOT afraid today.
I DO believe.

That is my prayer today.

Thanks be to God!


_________
This prayer inspired while singing the following setting of the great hymn, "We shall overcome".

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Doing Good

Matthew 6:1-6
“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
“So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

I hope that the good I do
is done out of joyful obedience
to You, O God.

Do I do good for rewards?
Do I do good for selfish reasons?
Do I do good so that others think more highly of me?
Lord,
whatever my motivation,
may the good I do 
be pleasing in your sight
and give glory and praise 
to your name
today and everyday. 
Amen.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Grieving the Death of a Son

The below prayer is shared from: 


Divine Darkness, 
when the night of grief 
swallows our feeble light, 
help us to feel you 
lovingly wrap us in that very darkness.

Hidden God, 
we are angry. 
Where are you? 
Show yourself. 
Explain yourself. 
Feel the heat of our frustration and fear 
we share only with you.

Burden-lifting God, 
our grief weighs us down. 
It feels as if our backs will break 
along with our hearts. 
We are smothered by the weight. 
When it feels as if we can bear no more, 
Loving Shepherd, bear us forward.

O, Answer to all Mysteries, 
we have unanswerable questions. 
We struggle with 
"If only ..." and 
"What if?" and 
"Why?" 
Give us grace to live the questions 
in the confidence that we don't have to have all the answers.

Our Beginning and Our End, 
you have taught us about life; 
now teach us about death. 

Comforting Mother, 
let us lay our wearied selves next to you, 
to sense your breath, 
to feel your warmth, 
to hear you tenderly call our name.

Amen.




____________________________________
Westminster Presbyterian Church is grieving the death of the beloved college-aged son of one of our families. Pray with us. Grieve with us. Hold onto God's love with us.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Spirit of Power, Love, & Self-discipline

II Timothy 1:5-7
I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.

Lord,
this Sunday the church
celebrates the gift of your Holy Spirit.

Remind us again,
just as Paul reminded Timothy,
Your Holy Spirit is
a Spirit of Power,
a Spirit of Love,
a Spirit of Self-discipline.

Sometimes we act out of
a spirit of defeat,
a spirit of hate,
a spirit of self-indulgence.

More often I see
a spirit of fear,
a spirit of meanness,
a spirit of apathy,
a spirit of self-interest.

O Spirit of Pentecost,
Rekindle your gifts within us;
Fan the flame of faith;
Stoke the fire to servanthood;
Throw another log on for loving God & loving others;
Pump the billows till we aglow for you;
BURN HOT refining and purifying us.
Come, O Spirit, Come!
Amen.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Beyond my Comfort Zone

Lord,
some days you call;
some days you beckon;
some days you woo;
some days you tell;
some days you order;
some days you push...

Today I feel you push
beyond my needs,
beyond my worries,
beyond my own troubles
into the lives of others.

Today's push from you
is beyond my comfort zone.
Today you are pushing me
to partner with others
and pray as part of my congregation's prison ministry.
Indeed, beyond my comfort zone.

By your push,
renew my conviction
that no matter who and not matter what:
"You are a Child of God,
and I will treat you that way."
May I live that out
with those in prison tonight.

So on this week that leads to Pentecost
and the gift of your Spirit,
blow in my life
your Spirit of calm,
your Spirit of truth,
your Spirit of compassion,
your Spirit of intercession.

May the words of my mouth
and the meditations of our hearts
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord our Rock and our Redeemer.
Amen.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Gifts for YOUR glory.

I Peter 4:10-11
Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.
Lord,
it seems to be a lifelong quest:
discerning the gifts
you put in our lives.

And then discerning ways
to put those gifts to work
for your service.

The temptation is
to take the credit
for all the gifts,
all the words,
all the strength...

Remind us always
that all we have is yours;
gifts given to us
to use for YOUR glory.

May it be so
in my life
today.
Amen.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Joyous, Fun Faith

I Peter 4:7-9
The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining.
Lord,
you know that
I take my faith seriously.
But sometimes I need to be reminded:
"Life's too serious
to be taken so seriously."

You intend our faith
to be joyous,
even fun.
I'm reminded of a picture of Jesus
I saw from a group called
"The Fellowship of Merry Christians."
It's one of the few pictures
I've seen of Jesus smiling,
maybe even laughing
There's a glint in his eyes
as if he's just told a funny joke.

Would that we had that same joy,
even fun, in our faith!

Love and laughter cover a multitude of sins.
Thanks be to God!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Judge of the Living and the Dead

I Peter 4:3-5
You have already spent enough time in doing what the Gentiles like to do, living in licentiousness, passions, drunkenness, revels, carousing, and lawless idolatry. They are surprised that you no longer join them in the same excesses of dissipation, and so they blaspheme. But they will have to give an accounting to him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead.

Lord,
too much time is spent
in wasteful living...
excesses of wasted excesses...
And, Lord,
I'm not pointing my finger at others.
I waste the gifts you give me:
my time in idleness,
my breath in unhelpful talk,
my energy in worry,
my dreams in wishful thinking,
my power in defeated living...

Just as the lawless
will giving an accounting
to Jesus the judge
of the living and the dead,
so will I.

In what ways did I use
my God given gifts
for God's glory
in this day,
in this week,
in this lifetime?

Lord,
help me be
a good steward
of your gifts.
Amen.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Churches of the Dry Bones

Ezekiel 37:11-14
Then he said to me, “Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.”

O Lord,
it was Israel's cry
in Ezekiel's day;
it seems to be the church's cry
in my day:
"Our bones are dried up,
and our hope is lost;
we are cut off completely."

Today the cry sounds like:
"How can we get young families
in our church again?"
"Who will take over these ministries
we've worked so hard to develop?"
"Why don't people come to Sunday school
or worship like they used to?"
"Why are sporting events allowed
to be scheduled on Sunday mornings?!"

The words are different;
the message is the same:
"Our bones are dried up,
and our hope is lost;
we are cut off completely."
Lord,
speak again your voice!
Send us a powerful vision
like you did for Ezekiel.
Help us hear the Word of the Lord:
"I will put my spirit within you,
and you shall live,
and I will place you on your own soil;
then you shall know that I,
the Lord, have spoken and will act."
Your Spirit alone can give us new life!
We knew it once.
Send that Spirit upon us again.
Amen.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Breathe on Me Breath of God

Ezekiel 37:7-10
So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.” I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.

Lord, 
this song 
in my heart 
today.



Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Fill me with life anew,
That I may love what Thou dost love,
And do what Thou wouldst do.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Until my heart is pure,
Until with Thee I will one will,
To do and to endure.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
Till I am wholly Thine,
Until this earthly part of me
Glows with Thy fire divine.

Breathe on me, Breath of God,
So shall I never die,
But live with Thee the perfect life
Of Thine eternity.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Dem Bones

Ezekiel 37:1-6
The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

Lord,
you know how music 
moves and inspires me.
I cannot hear the prophet Ezekiel's
vision of the dry bones
without hearing
the Delta Rhythm Boys sing
"Dem Bones" linked here: https://youtu.be/hYeQUXXYvK0

Lord,
so many days I feel like 
dry bones,
tired bones,
lazy bones...
I need encouragement.
I need good news.
I need help.

You are the One who knits together bones into a body.
You are the One who gives shape.
You are the One who gives breath.
You are the One who gives life.

Lord,
take this bag of bones
and make me LIVE again
for your sake.
Amen.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Thank you for writing me in...

John 20:28-31
Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Thank you, Lord!
Thank you for writing me
into your story.
"Blessed are those
who have not seen
and yet have come
to believe."
That's me!!

There I am
written into the Gospel story.
Thank you, Lord Jesus.

Help me
as I write my chapters
of the Good News.
May the "Acts of Chris Denny" (insert your own name, dear readers!)
be a continuation
of your Spirit at work
using an ordinary person
to do extraordinary things
for Christ's sake!
Amen.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Peace for the World

John 20:19-23
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”  After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained

Peace be with you!
Shalom be with you all!

Lord,
we need your peace.
We need your shalom.
Our world needs well-being for ALL.

More and more,
I see people locked
behind closed doors,
behind closed hearts
because of FEAR.

Fear is a powerful emotion,
a base emotion
that moves us
to fight or to flee.
It takes hard work to overcome
that animal instinct
toward violence for survival
or escape for survival.

And yet, Lord,
you show us a third option--
non-anxious presence,
compassionate listening,
committing for the LONG HAUL,
holding on, like Jacob,
not letting go until blessing comes. (see Genesis 32:26)

Send us by the power of your Holy Spirit
to be that kind of Peace:
non-anxious presence,
compassionate listening,
committing for the LONG HAUL,
holding on,
not letting go until blessing comes
Peace for the world!
Amen.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Courageous Doubts

John 20:24-28
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”  Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.”  Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
Lord,
why have people given
Thomas such a hard time?
I mean:
who among us has not wondered
about the truth of the resurrection?

Easter is so shocking
to our senses,
to our normal way of thinking,
to our everyday lived experience.

Indeed the christian Philosopher Soren Kierkegaard has said that the idea that the eternal, infinite, transcendent God could simultaneously be incarnated as a finite human being, in time, to die on the cross is an offense to reason.

Doubts are part of faith!
St. Anselm's motto is “faith seeking understanding."
Or as the father declared to you:
"Lord, I believe; 
help my unbelief"

I think Thomas was among the first 
of your disciples to wrestle
with faith.
I think he is being courageous,
asking the BIG questions,
and not settling for little answers.
Instead he is demanding, like Job,
"I had heard of you
by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you" Job 42:5

Give me courageous doubts;
such ones that open me to the possibility
of being surprised 
by your Risen Presence
in my ordinary life!
Amen.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Give us Heartburn

Luke 24:28-32

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”

Lord,
give us heartburn!
Upset our stomachs
Put an ache in our bellies
A fire shut up in our bones
Move us deep in our gut
to know your Risen Presence:
in our daily lives,
as we walk along,
as we discuss world events,
as we hold our children,
as we worship you,
as we struggle,
as we work,
as we pray,
as we play.

In the breaking of bread,
in the sharing of hospitality,
in welcoming strangers,
in accepting others,
in opening scripture,
in sharing our lives,
in telling the story,
in the evening,
in the daylight,
make yourself known to us!

Give us heartburn
until we recognize you!
Amen.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Let us see...

When I went to visit
in the hospital this week,
I saw the following prayer:

"Risen One,
open our minds and hearts.
Let us see
and welcome your presence."

When our eyes open again,
may they do so
not to end our devotions,
but to expect to see
your kingdom come
in our midst.
Amen.


___________
The inset prayer was found printed on the wall of an elevator at Providence Hospital Northeast in Columbia, SC.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

What things??

Luke 24:13-24
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?”
They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth,who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.”

Lord,
you, seeming like a stranger,
asked a simple questions:
"What things?"
And what follows is
a testimony,
a story of hope,
a story of loss,
a story of promise,
a story of pain,
a story of bewilderment,
a story of astonishment.

I wonder:
if you in a strangers voice
asked me today,
"What things?"
what story would I tell you?
Would I tell about
the amazing things I've seen?
the deep pain I've been witness to?
the healing I've seen?
the fear that lingers?
the despair?
the good news?
the renewal?

Would I end
my story the same way?
"but they did not see him"
We just can't seem
to recognize you.

Correct our vision
with the lenses
of your resurrection love.
Amen.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Journey to Jerusalem: The Celebration of Sunday


Journey to Jerusalem: IN BODY & SOUL

Sunday is for Celebrating!

The LORD is RISEN!
He is risen indeed!


Risen Lord,
we sing with joy,
"Hallelujah!"
We praise your name,
"Hallelujah!"
You are risen from the grave,
"Hallelujah!"
You are victor over death,
"Hallelujah!"
You triumph over evil,
"Hallelujah!"
Your love wins,
"Hallelujah!"

Good News! Good News!
The worst that humanity can do.
the betrayal, 
the denial, 
the desertion,
the false accusations,
the name calling,
the scourging,
the torturing,
the crucifying
could not destroy 
your self-giving love.

Your resurrection
gives us hope:
Even our worst
cannot hold back
your love for us.

Thanks be to God!
May my life be lived
out of thanksgiving
for your resurrection love!
Halleluia!
Amen.

________________
During Lent at Westminster Presbyterian Church, we have journeyed well over 7,000 miles together! Thank you for joining us on the Journey to Jerusalem!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Journey to Jerusalem: The Silence of Saturday


Journey to Jerusalem: IN BODY & SOUL

Holy Saturday is the day of God's silence.



My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
and by night, but find no rest.

Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our ancestors trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried, and were saved;
in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm, and not human;
scorned by others, and despised by the people.
All who see me mock at me;
they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;
“Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver—
let him rescue the one in whom he delights!”

Yet it was you who took me from the womb;
you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
On you I was cast from my birth,
and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.

Many bulls encircle me,
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.

I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
my mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.

For dogs are all around me;
a company of evildoers encircles me.
My hands and feet have shriveled;
I can count all my bones.
They stare and gloat over me;
they divide my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots.

But you, O Lord, do not be far away!
O my help, come quickly to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword,
my life from the power of the dog!
Save me from the mouth of the lion!

Words of Psalm 22:1-21

________________
During Lent at Westminster Presbyterian Church, we have journeyed well over 7,000 miles together! Thank you for joining us on the Journey to Jerusalem!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Journey to Jerusalem: The Suffering of Friday


Journey to Jerusalem: IN BODY & SOUL

Good Friday is the day of Jesus' suffering.

Lord,
the words of this hymn
express my thoughts today:


Ah, holy Jesus, how have you offended,
that mortal judgment has on you descended?
By foes derided, by your own rejected,
O most afflicted!
Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon you?
It is my treason, Lord, that has undone you.
'Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied you;
I crucified you.

For me, dear Jesus, was your incarnation,
your mortal sorrow, and your life's oblation;
your death of anguish and your bitter passion,
for my salvation.

Therefore, dear Jesus, since I cannot pay you,
I do adore you and will ever pray you,
think on your pity and your love unswerving,
not my deserving.

Hymn text:
Johann Heermann (1585-1647);
trans. Robert Seymour Bridges (1844-1930)


________________
During Lent at Westminster Presbyterian Church, we have journeyed well over 7,000 miles together! Thank you for joining us on the Journey to Jerusalem!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Journey to Jerusalem: Is it I, Lord?


Journey to Jerusalem: IN BODY & SOUL

Having arrived in Jerusalem, we journey with Jesus during his last days.

Matthew 26:17-22
On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord? Is it I?”

Lord,
it was a powerful drama,
a reenactment of your last supper.
I remember it so well.

One by one,
each of your 12 disciples
stood, stepped into the spotlight,
and asked, "Is it I, Lord?"
Then they began to recount
the ways they each
have betrayed you, Lord Jesus.

The drama ends with this poem:
The bread is broken and the wine is poured,
And once more grim Golgotha’s hill is nigh.
By whom is Christ again denied, betrayed?
Or should we all cry out, Lord, Is it I?

A traitor kisses Him upon His cheek;
A fisherman unsheathes his sword nearby,
Did this take place two thousand years ago?
Or should we all cry out, Lord, is it I?

A crown of thorns is pressed upon His brow,
And, bearing His own cross, He goes to die.
Whose is the guilt, the everlasting shame?
Or should we all cry out, Lord, IS it I?
Is it I, Lord?
Is it I?



________________
During Lent at Westminster Presbyterian Church, we have journeyed well over 7,000 miles together! Thank you for joining us on the Journey to Jerusalem!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Journey to Jerusalem: Always with you



Journey to Jerusalem: IN BODY & SOUL

Having arrived in Jerusalem, we journey with Jesus during his last days.

John 12:1-8
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

Lord Jesus,
how well Mary served you!
With abundance and love,
a fragrant offering
from not just her heart
but also her livelihood.

Oh, how I wish I could
give you such a gift.

And yet, you say I can.
In your rebuke to Judas,
you say:
"You always have the poor with you,
but you do not always have me."
Do you mean that
by serving the poor
I am serving you, Lord?

During this Holy Week,
move my love for you
to overflow in acts of
abundant love and compassion
for the poor!
In so doing,
may I be serving you
offering not just my wealth
but my very life.
Amen.

________________
During Lent at Westminster Presbyterian Church, we have journeyed well over 7,000 miles together! Thank you for joining us on the Journey to Jerusalem!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Journey to Jerusalem: We Made It!



Journey to Jerusalem: IN BODY & SOUL

As of April 5, together we have traveled over 7,700 miles. Over 160 different people have joined us on the journey this year! Thank you. Thank God for each of you.


Lord,
we have come with you
on this Journey to Jerusalem.
It has been a hard road,
an uphill climb,
but we have made it.

You remind us:
"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!" Luke 13:34

The way of suffering 
has just begun.
Lord,
Give us the courage 
to go with you
all the way to the cross
and the empty tomb.
Amen.


   
________________
During Lent at Westminster Presbyterian Church, we are committing to journey the 6,284 miles
from Columbia, South Carolina to Jerusalem, Israel in our walking, running, swimming, cycling, etc. Track your miles and submit them: www.westminsterpres.org LET'S GO!!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Journey to Jerusalem: HOSANNA! O God, save us!



Journey to Jerusalem: IN BODY & SOUL

The Journey to Jerusalem brings us just in time to see Jesus riding on a donkey; the King of Peace coming into Jerusalem.

Luke 19:28-38
After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
When he had come near Beth phage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’” So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”They said, “The Lord needs it.” Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying,
“Blessed is the king
who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
and glory in the highest heaven!”

HOSANNA!
O God, save us!
Ride into our lives
of chaos and stress.
Ride into our lives
of busy and rush.
Ride into our lives
of division and distress.
Bring your peace, O Prince of Peace.

Lord, I am mindful
have said that on Palm Sunday,
there were two parades:
1. You riding on a donkey
the humble King of Peace
from the Mount of Olives
surrounded by the symbols of peace
with palm branches and
shouts of HOSANNA!
Hebrew for O God, save us!

2. Govenor Pontius Pilate
riding on a war horse
surrounded by the symbols of the Roman empire
swords, soldiers, & imperial banners
with shouts of praise to
Caeasar called the "Son of God"
and praise for the Pax Romana
peace made from forced submission.
O Lord,
times haven't changed too much.
As you ride into our lives
as the Prince of Peace this Palm Sunday,
our news media sings the praises
of the power and posturing of some politicians,
of war and terror and fear,
of promised well-being
through power and show of force.

Your Kingdom is not of this world.
And yet you teach us to pray:
"Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done
on earth..."

Ride into our lives
and teach us to join in
your kingdom work
on earth.
Amen.


   
________________
During Lent at Westminster Presbyterian Church, we are committing to journey the 6,284 miles
from Columbia, South Carolina to Jerusalem, Israel in our walking, running, swimming, cycling, etc. Track your miles and submit them: www.westminsterpres.org LET'S GO!!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Journey to Jerusalem: A Motley Crew



Journey to Jerusalem: IN BODY & SOUL

Along the Journey to Jerusalem we travel with a wide variety of people. Pilgrims are always quite a mixed group, a motley crew, the people of God's own choosing.

Isaiah 43:5-7
Do not fear, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you;
I will say to the north, “Give them up,”
and to the south, “Do not withhold;
bring my sons from far away
and my daughters from the end of the earth—
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”
Lord,
you choose us;
you call us;
you gather us together.
And we are a diverse group:
athletes & musicians,
business leaders & workers,
addicts & academics,
lawyers & the convicted,
doctors & the sick,
teachers & students,
mentors & apprentices,
at work, at rest, & at play,
parents, grandparents & children,
every color of the rainbow,
men & women,
young & old,
entitled & resentful,
rebellious & obedient,
hard working & lazy,
doubters & devoted,
poor & rich,
oppressed & powerful,
generous & stingy,
the good, the bad & the ugly.
we are all here.

All following you.
All loved by you.
All claimed by you.
All invited by you.
All yours.

All made in your image.
All in need of forgiveness.
All in need of grace.
All in need of love.
And all here,
in your kingdom.
All here
with our eyes toward you.

Made one Body in your suffering love.
Made one Hope in your resurrection.
Made one Church by your Spirit.

Lord,
we had no idea
just how far reaching your love is.
Thank you for including us.

We journey together
in life and faith
with our eyes focused
on the Cross of Christ and his Empty Tomb
that which makes us One.
Amen.

   
________________
During Lent at Westminster Presbyterian Church, we are committing to journey the 6,284 miles
from Columbia, South Carolina to Jerusalem, Israel in our walking, running, swimming, cycling, etc. Track your miles and submit them: www.westminsterpres.org LET'S GO!!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Journey to Jerusalem: Up Hill All the Way



Journey to Jerusalem: IN BODY & SOUL

The Journey to Jerusalem is up hill quite literally. Pilgrims to Jerusalem must ascend from the valleys that surround the city.

During Lent, we are mindful that the Journey to Jerusalem leads to another hill near Jerusalem -- a hill called Calvary. Jesus is very clear that his path to Jerusalem is a path to betrayal, suffering, death -- and resurrection!

Luke 18:31-34
Then he took the twelve aside and said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be handed over to the Gentiles; and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again.” But they understood nothing about all these things; in fact, what he said was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.

Lord Jesus,
I still do not understand:
Why was it necessary
for you to die is such a way?
I mean --
Is God really so blood thirsty
that only Your blood shed would win my salvation?
Since all the earth belongs to God,
to whom did a ransom need to be paid to win my salvation?

Don't get me wrong:
I know very clearly I need a savior!
I CANNOT save myself;
Lord, you know I've tried.

But did it have to be YOUR suffering and death?
Or is my salvation even won in death?
Salvation comes not from your death alone,
but salvation comes in death and RESURRECTION!
Those two always come as a pair in your story don't they.
Death and resurrection!
Gruesome cruel death and glorious victorious resurrection!
Good Friday's cross and Easter Sunday's empty tomb!
Lent's Kyrie and Easter's Hallelujah!

Lord,
this Journey to Jerusalem
is up hill all the way.
It's a hard path,
like a runner pushing through the hardest mile,
keep our eyes focused
on the cross ahead
and the empty tomb.
Amen.

   
________________
During Lent at Westminster Presbyterian Church, we are committing to journey the 6,284 miles
from Columbia, South Carolina to Jerusalem, Israel in our walking, running, swimming, cycling, etc. Track your miles and submit them: www.westminsterpres.org LET'S GO!!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Journey to Jerusalem: Lift Up My Eyes



Journey to Jerusalem: IN BODY & SOUL

The Journey to Jerusalem is an uphill journey. No matter which direction you come from in Israel, Jerusalem is a city built on a hill surrounded on all sides by valley. For those who built Jerusalem, being situated on a hill top was a great defensive strategy. Attacking armies would have to cross over the valleys and then climb up the hill to the walled city.

Theologically it meant the temple in Jerusalem was also built on the hill -- often called the "temple mount". On the Journey to Jerusalem pilgrims to the temple must ascend the hill. There is a whole section of the Psalms called the Psalms of Ascent, Psalm 120-134. They cover a whole range of human emotion; these psalms would be sung, recited, prayed on the pilgrims climb up to Jerusalem.

Psalm 123
To you I lift up my eyes,
O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
As the eyes of servants
look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maid
to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
until he has mercy upon us.
Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
for we have had more than enough of contempt.
Our soul has had more than its fill
of the scorn of those who are at ease,
of the contempt of the proud.

O Lord,
to you
I lift up
my eyes.
For too long have I my eyes
studied my feet in shame.
I lift my face to you.
Daring to look in your eyes
expecting to see disappointment,
I am surprised to see delight --
love, mercy, laughter --
grace.

You know don't you.
You understand.
For the first time ever,
I see it now.
In the eyes of Jesus,
I see my eyes.
In the hurts of Jesus,
I see my hurts.
In the laughter of Jesus,
I hear my own voice.
You know. You do.
You understand.

That's what the whole
coming to earth in flesh and blood was about.
You wanted us to know
that you know,
I mean really KNOW.
Emmanuel -- God is with us.
God is ONE of us.

So when I pray,
you get it.
When I falter and fail,
you understand.
When I do amazing things,
you cheer with me!

You KNOW.
I see it now in your eyes.
Then you invite me to keep walking,
and you walk beside me
not ahead, nor behind,
but right beside me --
a companion on the way.
Thank you, Jesus.

Amen.

   
________________
During Lent at Westminster Presbyterian Church, we are committing to journey the 6,284 miles
from Columbia, South Carolina to Jerusalem, Israel in our walking, running, swimming, cycling, etc. Track your miles and submit them: www.westminsterpres.org LET'S GO!!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Journey to Jerusalem: Clap and Cheer!

Recently I read a story about little Jamie Scott. Maybe you've read it too.

Jamie was trying out for a part in the school play. He'd set his heart on being in it, though his mother feared he would not be chosen. 
On the day the parts were awarded, the mother went to collect him after school. Jamie rushed up to her, eyes shining with pride and excitement.. 'Guess what, Mom,' he shouted, and then he said words that are a lesson to all of us 'I've been chosen to clap and cheer.'

Lord, it's not a Bible story,
but all the same 
I think it speaks some of your truth.

I often feel like little Jamie.
I often think that 
You have chosen me 
to clap and cheer!

One of my greatest joys as pastor
is to celebrate the achievements of others.
Elders claiming their ministry and doing it well.
Deacons caring for others, embodying Christ's love.
Children in wonder discovering the stories of God's love.
Youth wrestling with questions of life
and seeing God in the midst of it all.
Adults uncovering the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
I get join you, Lord,
clapping and cheering them on
like a crowd of fans in the stadium!

This Sunday is youth Sunday 
at Westminster Presbyterian Church.
Middle School and High School students
will lead the community in worshiping God.
They will stand and share their faith.
They will serve God and God's people
claiming their place in the congregation.

Lord, already I have had the chance
to encourage the high school senior
who is preaching this Sunday.
As we talked, we both became 
more and more excited and animated
thinking about the connections 
between his life, 
the Bible story for Sunday, and 
the life of the congregation!
It was so awesome to see him 
get excited about sharing Your Good News!

I can't wait to clap and cheer our youth
as they lead the community in worshiping
you!
Lord,
I am glad you have chosen me
for a part in the divine drama of your love,
the part of
clapping and cheering.
Amen!

Journey to Jerusalem: Are we paying attention?



Journey to Jerusalem: IN BODY & SOUL

The Journey to Jerusalem is with others. We meet others along the way -- friends, companions, strangers. Jesus walks with us, but do we recognize him? Are we paying attention?

Luke 24:13-27
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?”
They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.”
Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

Below is linked a video about the journey:


Questions for the journey?
  • What is God doing in our midst?
  • Who walks along with us on the way?
  • Are we paying attention?



   
________________
During Lent at Westminster Presbyterian Church, we are committing to journey the 6,284 miles
from Columbia, South Carolina to Jerusalem, Israel in our walking, running, swimming, cycling, etc. Track your miles and submit them: www.westminsterpres.org LET'S GO!!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Journey to Jerusalem: Share the Uncomplicated



Journey to Jerusalem: IN BODY & SOUL


The Journey to Jerusalem is one of questions. I am learning that often on the path of life it may well be that the answers are not as important as the questions. Indeed Jesus often responds to questions with another question.

I love this prayer website: http://pray-as-you-go.org/

from some time back 
keeps coming back to me. 
More specifically 
one of the questions:
Are there uncomplicated ways in which you can share your sense of God with others?
Lord Jesus,
my faith is so nuanced.
It really cannot be reduced
to a sound bite for the media,
nor the 140 characters of a tweet.

Indeed, Lord,
when I used all my words
to express my sense of God,
they fall far short.

Perhaps the best I can do
is to surrender my words
to an awe-filled silence.
  
And yet, I must say something.
How, in an uncomplicated way,
can I express my sense of God?

Lord,
my faith ancestors found stories to be best --
66 books of the Bible worth of stories.

My story?
I am a well loved younger son, the baby.
Raised in a loving congregation.
While not a preacher's son,
my family was often
among the first to arrive and last to leave church.
Living 4+ hours away from relatives,
the congregation became like my family.
They demonstrated God's love to me --
a growing son, loved and welcomed,
challenged and encouraged by the congregation.
They taught me:
to love God and God's people of all kinds,
to search the scriptures and listen for God's voice,
to pray and not stop praying,
to serve with joy,
to follow wherever God leads.

I heard God's voice calling me
through that congregation and others
to give back 
by loving and welcoming,
challenging and encouraging,
other sons and daughters,
the children of God of all ages,
and doing that as pastor.

Lord,
that's my story.
It's your story too --
you at work for me,
you at work in spite of me,
and most amazingly
you at work through me.

Thank you for weaving your story
through my story.
Emboldening me to share that story.
Amen.


I wonder:
  • What's your story?
  • In what ways is God's story woven through your story?
  • What are some people in your circle of influence who need to hear your story?
  • When will you tell them? (Take the time. Tell them!)
   
________________
During Lent at Westminster Presbyterian Church, we are committing to journey the 6,284 miles
from Columbia, South Carolina to Jerusalem, Israel in our walking, running, swimming, cycling, etc. Track your miles and submit them: www.westminsterpres.org LET'S GO!!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Journey to Jerusalem: It's you I'm living for



Journey to Jerusalem: IN BODY & SOUL

The Journey to Jerusalem is life's journey, the path of discipleship, the way of Jesus. Just like Jesus along the way, we meet both tragedy and trial, joy, and celebration.  The path is to both the Cross and Empty Tomb.  Both are critical to our Lent and Easter faith -- in living and in dying, we belong to God.

 I heard the song linked below recently.

There is something about it 
that keeps drawing me back 
-- the simplicity, the longing, 
the intimacy, the faith expressed.

Here are the lyrics to the refrain:
"Some will try to chase the world;
Some will find but loose it all.
But I will lose my life to find
to sweet Jesus I belong.
Sweet Jesus, I adore.
It's you I'm living for."

Sweet Jesus,
our Christian faith --
our Lent and Easter faith--
affirms,
claims,
holds on to with tenacity:
in living and in dying, 
we belong to our faithful savior 

Sweet Jesus,
You are the God who is with us, 
the God who suffers for us, 
the One who dies for our salvation, 
and the One who RISES to redeem our worst. 
That's why this Christian Easter faith 
is so powerful and so important!!

In the face of tragedy,
and in the face of good news,
in the face of new birth,
and in the face of suffering death,
to YOU, Sweet Jesus,
to you along do I belong.
You, Sweet Jesus, 
are the one I adore.
It's You, I'm living for.

Amen.


________________
During Lent at Westminster Presbyterian Church, we are committing to journey the 6,284 miles
from Columbia, South Carolina to Jerusalem, Israel in our walking, running, swimming, cycling, etc. Track your miles and submit them: www.westminsterpres.org LET'S GO!!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Journey to Jerusalem: Reset our Priorities



Journey to Jerusalem: IN BODY & SOUL

The Journey to Jerusalem is seeking after God. Each step one closer to seeing the fullness of God revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some have called it "scandalous" -- God's true self revealed in suffering, death, and resurrection. Certainly it defies our expectations.

Isaiah 55:6-9
Seek the LORD while he may be found,
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake their way,
and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the LORD, that he may have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Lord,
we had NO IDEA.
How could we?
We dream of
height and strength,
power and majesty,
honor and fame,
glory and victory.

And you are all that and more...
But your thoughts are not our thoughts,
nor are you ways, our ways.
Your idea of  height and strength
is a cross on Calvary.
Your idea of power and majesty
is suffering and compassion.
Your idea of honor and fame
is death and resurrection.
Your idea of glory and victory
is fullness of life now and forever.

We had NO IDEA.
How could we possibly understand?
And honestly,
it still baffles us.

We still seek for ourselves
power and majesty,
strength and height,
fame and honor,
victory and glory.
And instead, you give us
grace and forgiveness,
compassion and serving,
humility and contentment,
peace and well-being,
healing and reconciliation.

Indeed,
your ways are not our ways,
nor are our thoughts, your thoughts.

On the journey to Jerusalem,
reset our priorities
putting the Cross of Christ on our shoulders
and Easter's Empty Tomb before us.
Through the Lord who is Risen indeed!

Amen.


________________
During Lent at Westminster Presbyterian Church, we are committing to journey the 6,284 miles
from Columbia, South Carolina to Jerusalem, Israel in our walking, running, swimming, cycling, etc. Track your miles and submit them: www.westminsterpres.org LET'S GO!!